Yukmouth

Godzilla

Splitting spleens and blasting gats. Pressing the Benz's pedal to the metal in Gucci stilettos. Popping champagne bottles and fucking in parlors. If at this point you're more titillated than repulsed, you're probably already familiar with Yukmouth's work. Hailing from Oakland, the rapper has been at the forefront of the Bay Area scene since the mid-'90s. With a curt, lyrical flow and no lack of bombastic bravado, he's spit rhymes with the likes of locals Scarface and Too $hort, and constituted one-half of the platinum-selling East Bay group Luniz. His new CD, Godzilla, closely echoes his past work, for better or worse: While it's entertaining, it's also redundant.

Godzilla leans heavily on genre clichés, splicing the typical Bay Area hustler template with the latest gangsta trends. "Money & Power" samples the seminal yet overused Scarface movie; the album's themes (best articulated in the chorus of the title track: "Think money, think cars, think jewelry, think cribs") are hardly breaking new ground; and Yukmouth delivers not one, but two requisite dis tracks, going after Master P on "Somebody Gone Die 2 Nite" and 50 Cent and "that white boy" on "Thug Lordz." Ironically, on the former track he dismisses rival record label No Limit with, "Everybody on No Limit sounds like someone else/ ... the biting is critical." Perhaps he should have taken his own advice.

But the beauty of Godzilla is in execution rather than originality. Yukmouth utilizes his reputation and connections to assemble an all-star lineup of producers that includes Mr. Mixx (2 Live Crew), Dame Grease (Nas, DMX, and Eve), and Mike Dean (who did a portion of Scarface's classic 2002 album The Fix). The talent pool comes through: "Be Easy" is laced with the ever fashionable Bollywood vocal sample; "Stuntastic" employs the crunked, minimalist electro of the Neptunes; and "Godzilla" juxtaposes dreamy, aquatic synths with tough NYC beats. Of course Yukmouth rides these beats exquisitely, executing his bruising braggadocio rhymes with a sharp flow that sounds both hungry and exact. Perhaps most of the material on Godzilla is old hat, but it's one that Yukmouth wears well.

 
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