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DJBooth Album Review
Yung Joc, America’s favorite baby-faced rapper, is back on the block with the release of his aptly named sophomore album, Hustlenomics. Bad Boy was admittedly surprised by the success of Joc’s hit, It’s Goin’ Down, and failed to capitalize on the smash single. Well, Diddy doesn’t let money pass him by twice. He’s banking on Yung Joc’s ability to mix dope boy fresh style with enough pop to draw in pre-teens. How do you hustle hip-hop? Class is in session.
The school bell rings on the title track Hustlenomics, a joint that holds close to the Altanta trap music sound. Joc starts things off with the line, “call me Malcom X, I hustle by any means,” before launching into a test of street mathematics. I don’t think Malcom was talking about meeting Yung Joc at the mall when he said he will achieve freedom, “by any means necessary,” but lyrical analysis aside, Hustlenomics is a rider. He keeps coming hard on the slowly bouncing Bottle Poppin, a typical club track complete with a chopped n’screwed chorus. Joc adopts a memorably harmonized flow while Gorilla Zoe puts in one of his three features. Three! I know they’re on the same label but that’s ridiculous. Things get straight hardcore on Cut Throat, a gunshot filled track featuring a tight DJ Quik beat, an undeniably strong verse by The Game, and a surprisingly thoughtful Jim Jones. For his part Joc sounds like Jeezy’s younger brother; same slow paced and punched flow, but without the rasp and strength. It is what it is.
Any hustler knows the key to the game is controlling your image. With that in mind Bad Boy dropped Coffee Shop, a family-friendly hustling track complete with a kid chorus and a video where Joc throws on an Eddie Murphy fat suit. My little cousin loves dancing to Coffee Shop’s brightly bouncing beat, he also loves eating frosting straight out the tub until he throws up. Speaking on behalf of grown folks everywhere, it’s infuriating. I just hope the kids lining up at the coffee shop aren’t the same ones Joc threatens to, “kidnap…f**ck in the a**, and throw over the bridge,” on Cut Throat. If you thought Coffee Shop was annoying you’re gonna want to avoid Pak Man, a track with a carnival-ride beat. Who decided it was a good idea to have Joc rhyme in a cartoon style high-pitched voice? How can the embarrassingly gimmicky Pak Man and the swaggering criminality of I’m a G be on the same album? There’s only one answer; Diddy must have pulled Joc aside and demanded some songs he could sell to teens, and a cheesecake from Brooklyn.
Speaking of Diddy, the man himself puts in a verse on the catchy Hell Yeah, featuring a beat so strangely catchy it’s got to be from The Neptunes and one of the best Joc verses on the album. Take out Diddy’s questionable rhyme skills and it’s a truly memorable track. The feel good vibes continue on Brand New, an update of the 70's soul classic with some quality Snoop (is there anyone more consistent?) and a heavy-breathing Rick Ross. This is exactly where Joc is at his best, halfway between Cut Throat and Coffee Shop. He’s more talented than here-today-gone-tomorrow rappers (let’s go with Jibbs), but won’t have his t-shirts banned in schools (the Snowman). In the end Hustlenomics is a decent album that tries so hard to please everyone it loses its own identity. If Joc and Bad Boy are hustlers selling hip-hop, what does that make anyone who buys his album? I’m not hating, I just can’t shake the feeling I’m being hustled.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on Aug 28, 2007
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