Words by T.C.
Every so often, a rapper with marginal talent comes along and turns his fifteen minutes of fame into a full-fledged career. It’s a feat that even the most experienced listener can’t predict. Consider Yung Joc guilty as charged. After taking over last summer with his #1 hit, “It’s Goin’ Down”, the Atlanta native gave Bad Boy Records their first platinum plaque in a very long time. A few stellar collaborations here, a few business ventures there, and he’s back to re-up with his sophomore effort, Hustlenomics, which improves on his debut album while keeping his signature style intact.
Yung Joc maintains a successful formula which caters to his strengths with catchy rhymes over lively production. Flashing a little cockiness, he quips: “Well since it ain’t/ya’ll niggas said I can’t/ya laughed about my dance/I walked it out the bank” on the official opener, “Play Your Cards”, which is preceded by several noteworthy cuts. On the vibrant “Hell Yeah”, the Neptunes deliver a keyboard-laced banger atypical of their sound as Joc showcases a nifty flow which makes for the album’s highlight. Likewise, DJ Quik disguises his trademark rhythm-al-ism for the perfect fit to the tri-regional gansterisms of The Game, Joc, and Jimmy Jones on “Cut Throat”. The semi-screwed “Bottle Poppin” (featuring Gorilla Zoe) appeals to the riders and Jazze Pha’s angelic backdrop helps make “Momma” a solid dedication. And while the majority of content on Hustlenomics is indeed shallow, pop filler such as “Coffee Shop” and “BYOB”, it is enjoyable nonetheless.
Since Joc’s skills are on the borderline of a gimmick and melody maker, naturally, the LP has its share of fluff. “Brand New” is an extremely lazy song and probably makes it the thousandth time someone has sampled The Stylistics’ “You Make Me Feel Brand New”. The tired “Getting To Da Money” is a headache waiting to happen, and the “Hustlemania Skit” and goofy “Pak Man” weren’t necessities, either. Hopefully, next time, songs like this will be left on the cutting room floor.
It’s like this: Yung Joc’s lyrics are unlikely to be recited in classroom debates, nor will he be placed on a “Who’s Who” list of hip-hop’s elite. But, by aligning his addictive flows with production that’s suited for pre-club rituals and expensive car speakers, Hustlenomics makes for dope product. And with steady improvement like this, his fan base will continue to grow.
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