Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Album Review: Lil Wil- Dolla$, TX

(By That One Guy)

In the rap world, there seems to be two distinct paths an artist can take when recording a debut full length album following a regional hit single that breaks nationwide. I’ll call these the Rich Boy Route and the Soulja Boy Route, using two recent examples from the South. After the mega success of “Throw Some D’s,” Rich Boy released a debut album on which his hit stood out as something of an anomaly compared to the harder, more serious-minded fare of the rest of the album. Soulja Boy, on the other hand, followed up “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” with a debut album full of formulaic rehashes of his hit single, dooming himself to being seen as a “one hit wonder" despite the fact that the record produced several more hits.

So, the question becomes, which path has Lil Wil chosen after his “My Dougie” has become perhaps the biggest rap single Dallas has ever produced? Is Dolla$, TX a bid for critical respect that refutes the easily digested poppiness of his big hit, or is it a bit of a pander to an audience he fears losing as quickly as he won it? Although the bosses at Asylum Records might not like it, I’m glad to say that Lil Wil has followed his single success with, for the most part, a trip down the Rich Boy Route-- a debut full length that eschews the easy cash-in of a “Dougie Girl” or some other ill-fated attempt to start another dance craze in favor of a statement from and for the streets that positions him as a strong contender for longevity rather than a flash in the pan.

Setting the record off with a bang, the title track and “Money On My Mind” both find Lil Wil rapping a metroplex-referencing “Get Money, Fuck Everything Else” statement of intent over a beat that I would venture to include in the “Can’t really describe it but I know it when I hear it” Dallas sound built around stabbing synths and rolling drums-- both tracks stand out as two of the album’s strongest. “Move It” follows as the obligatory rap album “track for the ladies," saving an eye-rolling hook from Lil Wil (“First I hit you with the Dougie, Now my pockets gettin’ chubby”) with a backing track tailor made for skating rinks and a celebratory Akon-esque vocal hook from Papa Reu. Why it hasn’t been pegged as the follow-up single is a mystery to me. “Move It” is also the first taste of the interesting Caribbean influence Wil’s Rude Bwoy Entertainment partner Rude weaves through the album, most explicitly on “Straight Up” and “Thug Thang,” where his dancehall-style vocals are prominently featured.

After a pointless drug selling skit, Dolla$, TX hits another strong but oddly paced run of tracks starting with the paranoia of “Look At What The World Made Me,” which, along with the later track “Focused,” stand as Wil’s biggest argument for “serious artist” consideration, as well as the biggest backup for his recent assertion that he is “more T.I., than Souljah Boy.” Sadly, this is followed by “Stacks On Deck,” which, despite being a good strip club tune with a fun T-Pain-sans-autotuner turn from Deonte, sounds really off sitting next to the hard luck tales of its predecessor. Next up, the song that made it all possible, “My Dougie,” swaggers through still sounding great after a million spins while providing a perfect lead in to the “dressing up for the club” designer name checking of “Grown Man.”

Of the last few tracks on the album, “Bust It Open” makes the biggest impression. Described as Lil Wil’s second hit by Asylum’s marketing department, it is hard to imagine a track based around the phrase “Bust that pussy open, then I tell her bring it back” having a wide crossover appeal, regardless of the contagious beat provided by Liqwid Entertainment’s Big E (who also provided the beat for “My Dougie”). The aforementioned “Focused” and “I Feel Like” bring the record to a mellow conclusion before giving way to a bonus remix of “My Dougie.”

All in all, the album proves that Lil Wil is capable of getting out from under the shadow of a leftfield hit and creating a lane for himself and the Dallas hip hop scene that should last past the next YouTube video dance craze. Old heads may grumble and true schoolers may mourn, but if artists like Lil Wil have any say in the matter, Dallas Got Next.

(3 of 5)

52 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm fresh, YEP!! fly then a muthafucka!

2:55 AM  
Anonymous thomas said...

why do you cover main stream shit? leave it to all the magazines that make thousands to millions off of advertisements and also off of record companys and p.r. companys paying them to talk about their current generic tool of profit. please. unless you actually like this shit.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

noise acts have pr companies too. hate to break it to you, thomas.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Awol One killed it like usual. Its the third time I've seen him around here (first two times were at Rubber Gloves.) The high school kids there for Islands were so annoying that my friends and I left as soon as Awol left the stage. I have no idea how he got on this lineup.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. thomas has said what seriously needs to be said. kudos.
2. historically, i believe there is some precedent, jon. hendrix did open for the monkees, after all.
3. hate to break it to YOU, but who does'nt have pr in this era?
4. could there be a genre more unentertaining, or irrelevant for that matter, than hip hop?! btw: easter's not on it's way.
5. one could/should only look as far as sean combs. that shit's fuckin' gross. keep nerdin' it up, wsjr. you're not hip, douchebags.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:30 and 9:51,
They very rarely cover mainstream stuff beyond just making fun of a big American Airlines/Superpages show. Why bitch about it? Waste of energy. There are plenty of other things that are far more important than this blog to get outraged about.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, 11:30 really knows the "industry." Kudos, dave geffen. Sean Combs? What is this, 1993? Complaining about the relevancy of hip hop as a genre is like complaining about shampoo with conditioner mixed in. it's been around long enough that you should be used to it by now.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

11:30 is my Dad guys. He just wants me to "stop this silly weblog" and get a REAL job.

Sorry dad, blog4life.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"4. could there be a genre more unentertaining, or irrelevant for that matter, than hip hop?! btw: easter's not on it's way."


hipster white boy rock

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

finish up already!

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they'll have theirs
and you'll have yours
and i'll have mine

and together we'll be fine
cuz it takes...

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anal degradation?

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the greedy grove represent.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the greedy grove represent.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous swampass said...

hip hop is lame.

but write about it all you want! it's yer blog...i'll just skip over it.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eh.....

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i mean "dollas tx" OMG! geeeez! ralph!!! what a played, sold out, fuckin' degenerate, state-of-the-notart wannabe con job.

but whatever, you suckers will let yourselves be spoonfed ANYTHING.
that's wsjr's staff, though. they see that cunt vs braincells bullshit, and off they go!

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rock music is lame

2:13 PM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

203-- are you drunk? I'd like to hear more from you.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dollas tx" is actually very appropriate. Have you been to Dallas? Do you know what types run that shit? Thats playing straight into the national stereotype of Dallas as a money drive city. While I could care less for lil wil or any lil you name it in the rap game I can still recognize hard realism when i see it. Man up.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous fastlassie said...

I think you should copy lil wil's awesome font and use it for a new logo.

i'm actually serious. it would be awesome yo!

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be awsome.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this lil will guy looks like a serious fuckface ( I think that becomes quite apparent with the "beat that pussy open" line)

hip-hop is one thing, but why cover shitty thug turds?

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

because it pisses off scared lil pussy boys like you who listen to pansy shit. Z-RO motherfucker.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous getnice said...

"4. could there be a genre more unentertaining, or irrelevant for that matter, than hip hop?"

For one, I wouldn't consider Lil Wil to be hip-hop (though I haven't heard his whole album). He does pop music or something like pop-rap.

As far as the difference between rap and hip-hop, RZA says this on Forever:

A lot of niggaz trying to take hip-hop
and make that shit R&B, rap and bullshit yaknowhatI'msayin?
Or make that shit funk
Fuck that, this is MCin right here, this is hip-hop
Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang gonna bring it to you in the purest form
...
Yo, this is true hip-hop you listenin to right here
In the pure form, this ain't no R&B with a wack nigga takin the loop
Be loopin that shit thinkin it's gonna be the sound of the culture
YaknowhatI'msayin? (That player bullshit)
YaknowhatI'msayin? All that player dressin up
on this shit, actin like this some kind of fashion show man
YaknowhatI'msayin? This is hip-hop right here
YaknowhatI'msayin? This is lyrics, MCin
And yo, to y'all niggaz who think you going to become an MC overnight
YaknowhatI'msayin? Better snap out that fuckin dream
Man it takes years for this you Cat in the Hat ass rappers
You Dr. Seuss, Mother Goose, simple minded...

I'm still trying to figure this out, but it seems like hip-hop is about words and rap is more about pop/entertainment. Can anyone help me on this one?

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who gives a shit, who gives a fuck...

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wanna drink with me.. it helps you to, y'know.. forget..

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pansy shit. hmmm... like pansy division or wha???

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

toned flanger! get off of that fuckin' thing and get yer chores done, NOW!!! MOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!

5:08 PM  
Anonymous damn gina said...

“that one guy” writes the worst reviews. at least sr and dl back up their main ideas with a little substance and/or logic.

why is hip hop limited to only two approaches? that’s just stupid. and what’s with the stupid-ass, final paragraph summation/zinger schtick he uses in every review? did he just start his first writing class? i mean, did this faggot finish junior high? what a fucking joke.

please, flush this guy like your asshole movie critic.

ps: I heard that one of the guys from btd actually kicked the bearded we shot guy’s ass in a bar one night. is that true? that would explain the ill will.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous y'all are a bunch of tits said...

Thomas just said what seriously needs to be said. Because Thomas actually has a say.

Where's the harm in recognizing the "next big thing" to come out of Dallas? And why get all indignant if it's a MC?

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RZA is damn respectable. But if you think thats all hip hop is about then you need to get your as in a delorean and cruise on to the 1990s bro where that ideology fits in. The games changed.

Not that Kanye is more respectable as an MC then RZA because he aint... but let me show you where the current "what is hip hop" ideology battle ground is at...

Kanye wrote the following on his blog:

"Soulja boy is fresh ass hell and is actually the true meaning of what hip hop is sposed to be. He came from the hood, made his own beats, made up a new saying, new sound and a new dance with one song. He had all of America rapping this summer. If that ain't Hip Hop then what is? A bunch of wannabe keep it real rappers that ain't even relevant, recycling samples trying to act like it's 96 again and all they do is hate on new shit? Niggas always talk about the golden age but for a 13 year old kid, this is the golden age!!! That song was so dope cause everything he said had a hidden meaning... that's Nas level shit... he just put it over some steel drums which is also some Nas shit if you had the 2nd album cassette with the bonus track "Silent Murder" on it. In closing... new niggas get ya money$$$$$$$$$$ Keep this shit fresh and original.... ain't no fuckin' rules to this shit and that's what real hip hop is to me.""

5:25 PM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

Actually that Kanye quote is right on the fucking money. I basically agree 100 %. I still think RZA is the shit too.


And Gina, read the review again. He doesn't say that HIP HOP is only limited to two approaches, he just takes a look at two directions hip hop artists from the region often seem to take when recording a full length debut following a first single hit.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous getnice said...

5:25, that helps. My other "real" hip-hop examples were going to be Nas and Pete Rock, so maybe I shouldn't think that that era IS hip-hop, it just was at one time. I just enjoy the lyricism from that time over most of the current crop, which is why I think Lil Wayne is worth listening to now.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there you go, quoting kanye.. jesus, what happened to the underground?! wal-mart faggots, why don't you just sell out? sell your soul, sell your mother. take your mainstream toolism's and do fuck off.

in case anyone forgot: selling out = unhip
not to mention crass.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jim

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys complaining are stupid idiots! WSJR is giving these fuck faces attention cause they are hoping lil' wil will notice the review and start some big drama. Then WSJR will have more stupid attention from a new demographic.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys complaining are stupid idiots! WSJR is giving these fuck faces attention cause they are hoping lil' wil will notice the review and start some big drama. Then WSJR will have more stupid attention from a new demographic.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys complaining are stupid idiots! WSJR is giving these fuck faces attention cause they are hoping lil' wil will notice the review and start some big drama. Then WSJR will have more stupid attention from a new demographic.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys complaining are stupid idiots! WSJR is giving these fuck faces attention cause they are hoping lil' wil will notice the review and start some big drama. Then WSJR will have more stupid attention from a new demographic.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous stonedranger said...

shhh... don't tell anyone!

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm tellin'

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:18 you got a better quote from someone in the suppose "underground" that talks about the current state of Hip Hop please share. We'd all like to hear. If you can't contribute anything to a civil discourse as you have done so far than you can shut the fuck up. That whole undergound, mainstream Différance (ala Jacques Derrida) is way 1980.
Lets cut the old school crap. I know its cool to kind of celebrate retro or revisionism but we are talking about the "Current" state of Hip Hop. Some terms do not apply anymore.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous select said...

this is high school. really. some people think underground sounds are good. some people like the appeal lil will has. the point is hip hop has all ways been about moving up. Better clothes, shoes, cars, house, jewelry, lyrics, beats, cuts/scratches. do you get what i'm saying? So...all this nerd core hiphop these days has to relax..big daddy kane wasn't walking around with a chip on his shoulder cause other people weren't as real as him....haha this debate could go on for days. like what you like . do what you do. anyways the only way to break it big is to mainstream America/middle America. and there still stuck on seeing hip hop artist with chains, rims, girls, vip, all of that. So understand most of Lil Will's fan base are 16 year old juniors in high school with daddies bank account. ha! lil will get that paper!

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh we get what you're saying, that it's all about material possessions, which has nothing to do with imagination, much less art.

rock on wit cho bad self.........................

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're in high school again..

NO RECESS!!!

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love that rec

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the whole of hip hop is not defined by whether it has imagination or is artistic. Leave that to the definition of "good hip hop"... as preference oriented as that sounds, because it is.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Michele shock said...

If I were Bill Johnson, I'd sue.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous select said...

to the 1:06 comment.

well that all goes down to what you want out of what you do. I love to dj and play music to people...it just so happens my hobby/passion is also my job. So I always have to play that role with myself....making money to support myself, liking what I play personally, and keeping my client/crowd happy...because I'm being paid to dj. So, when I say "get that paper" means..that's this guys job, I'm sure it's also his passion/art...so I think everyone plays that role. Especially with freelance artist...graphic designers and etc... being paid to make art that is not there personal taste but yet it's what they love to do...i'm rambling..ha.

2:01 AM  
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