Built on the back of Lil Wayne’s stellar success, the Young Money movement is Weezy’s attempt to follow Jay-Z’s blueprint (pun intended) and become not just a rapper, but an industry powerhouse. To that end he’s put together a mostly Southern-focused roster of artists who, with one notable exception, have yet to experience anything even remotely approaching their head honcho’s level of fame. Enter the compilation album We Are Young Money, a project that’s half commercial, half musical enterprise. With 11 different primary artists, plus at least five guest appearances, coming up with a definitive …
DJBooth Album Review
Enter the compilation album We Are Young Money, a project that’s half commercial, half musical enterprise. With 11 different primary artists, plus at least five guest appearances, coming up with a definitive statement about this album is sketchy, but that doesn’t mean there’s not enough substance here to bite into. But first, we need to quickly run through the Young Money roster. Here’s the super-abbreviated version:
Drake: Needs no introduction.
Nicki Minaj: A female rapper with a schizophrenic style and a deeply controversial fashion sense. Her highly-anticipated debut album will drop sometime in 2010.
Jae Millz: Harlem rapper whose early projects failed to make an impact. Trying to re-invigorate his career via Young Money.
Tyga: Mostly known as the coconut juice guy - apparently spending time around Lil Wayne has seriously upped his emcee game.
Mack Maine: From New Orleans, Mack is also the president of Young Money. Think of him like Birdman: maybe not the best rapper in his own right, but he plays his role.
Gudda Gudda: Widely considered to be the next Young Money artist to blow, though they’ve been saying that about him for years now.
Lil Twist: Super young kid from Texas. Basically signed to lock down Young Money’s teen girl demographic.
Shanell: Young Money’s resident crooner. Considered the “softer, sexier side” of the label.
T- Streets: Um…he’s a rapper who’s signed to Young Money. Past that, you got me. Which means we’re supposed to know him well by the end of the album.
Lil Chuckee: Like Lil Twist, another super young kid. I’m assuming he reminds Wayne of himself when he was young and hanging out with Birdman.
Ok, now that we’ve got that straightened out we can get down to business, starting with Every Girl, the smash single that epitomizes the blessing and curse of a compilation album. With a bouncing beat, Lil Wayne’s star power and a great verse from Drake (his “let’s be honest”/“lesbianish” line was dope), it’s no surprise Every Girl was a smash, but Millz, Gudda and Mack feel like last minute additions to what’s essentially a Wayne-Drake hit, especially when they’re all auto-tuned to death. Most radio stations only play the Wayne-Drake version, so if the goal of the album was to get the lesser known guys some attention, mission un-accomplished. By contrast the album’s other single Bedrock is more of a legit posse cut, although no one’s verse is particularly worth mentioning. In fact, I’d argue the beat, courtesy of Kane Beatz, and Lloyd’s catchy hook did more to make the track a hit than any Young Money contribution. It’s the same story on the album’s other potential radio hit, Ms. Parker, an enjoyable but not great track. To recap, not a particularly impressive start from Young Money.
Considering they essentially only make one appearance, I might as well get Lil Chuckee and Lil Twist’s track Girl I Got You out of the way. Even if it’s wasn’t a little creepy to hear kids rhyme about f**king like Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush, the track’s still barely listenable. Moving on…
The rest of the album is an assortment of more street-oriented cuts and attempts to let the Young Money cast get their moment in the spotlight. The album’s lead track Gooder is a banger that does prove Jae Millz is at the very least a rapper with a damn solid flow. I can’t say the same for Gudda Gudda, whose basic rhyme skills are evident on the ironically clichéd New S**t. Same goes for Mack Maine. T-Streets, whom I didn’t know before this, deserves a mention for his quality verse on Wife Beater, Tyga deserves a most-improved award for his work (his verse on Wife Beater is hilarious) and Shanell impresses on Be In My Band (even if the track sounds like another failed Rebirth cut). Last but not least, love her or hate her, Nicki Minaj can’t be ignored, although over the course of an album her wild style can become oddly predictable (especially on Roger That, where she sounds almost bored).
Regular readers knew an extended sports analogy was inevitable, so here we go. If We Are Young Money was a NBA team, they’d be the 2006-2007 Lakers: one superstar (Kobe/Lil Wayne), a very good player who hadn’t yet proven he could be great (Odom/Drake) and a potential superstar in the making (Bynum/Nicki) surrounded by a mostly forgettable supporting cast. So on a purely hip-hop level there’s no way We Are Young Money will win a championship. On the other hand, if the primary goal of We Are Young Money was to serve as an extended commercial, considering I just spent 850 words talking about them, I’d say they did a pretty damn good job. It’s Young Moolah, baby.
Listen to More: Young Money Written by Nathan S.
Young Money Ent/Universal Motown
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