X-Con is probably the first rap artists from Liberty City, Florida to go national. Well, somebody had to do it! First String Entertainment has tasted success before with their release of First Platoon’s song “M.I.A.M.I.” but X-Con’s own “Whoa Lil’ Mama” made much bigger noise; holding down a spot on the Billboard Hot Rap Chart for a better part of the year 2000. It’s a relatively simple track about women “bouncing and shaking” their God given assets over a thumping bassline with some nice piano hits. Actually, the track is a little bit spooky sounding – it might have made a nice addition to the “Scream 3” soundtrack.

X-Con is now set to branch out, a self-professed “bonafide street hustler with potent gut-wrenching lyrical skills.” Well then, let’s see what the OTHER X man besides Xzibit has to over. X has a voice similar to fellow Florida native Trick Daddy, which wins him a few points. X flows smoothly over his beats and sounds well practiced and rehearsed; that definitely accounts for something too. And the varied Dirty South production from “Stone” Clark, FatPocket and Sunni Black (admittedly I never heard of any of them) is not lacking at all. Perhaps best of all, Southern rap favorites U.G.K. make a guest appearance on the bouncing “Mighty Dollar.” X’s raps here are even comparable to an early Scarface:

“Why you gotta live rich, and I gotta live po’
and I’ll be like a lil’ bitch – keep askin you for mo’
when I can just rob you and take yo’ shit
Rob you every time I see you make yo’ shit
Cause round here nigga the RATS‘ll kick yo’ ass
And you come round here flossin with yo’ jewelry and cash”

ANTE UP! X-Con actually seems to have a little something more going on than the average G-rap artist, despite appearing to the naked eye to be a typical-ass thug rapper. “Out Tha Game” is actually a tale of a hustler who doesn’t WANT to deal cocaine anymore – how many drug tale raps come off like that? Where the beats are good to above average, Con comes off with style. “Caught Up” and “No 1 2 Talk 2” are both excellent tales of the criminal life; and the latter’s tale of “crackers livin in heaven and niggaz livin in hell” sounds like a year 2000 update of “The Message.” The song that may have the most potential here is “Hop” – a Dirty South dance which could actually knock Ludacris’ “Southern Hospitality” out the box.

To be sure, it’s not all roses and cream. First String’s insistance on showcasing their artists on X-Con’s LP (particularly a group with the awful moniker Awetopsy) distracts from X’s ability to shine; and to some degree X does fall into the cliches of being a rappin gangsta. “Bitch in Tha Jailhouse” was unnecessary except to establish X’s realism to doubting fans, and I didn’t really need to hear it. And no surprise there is a “thug lament” here in the form of “I Remember” – a played idea and an overused song title saved only by the humor of X’s “damn they dawged me out” rapping. Despite these mistakes, X-Con actually shows a lot of potential and has a good rap for an up-and-coming Southern rap artist. By building on his strengths and sticking to his story-telling skills and smooth flow, X will succeed in putting Liberty City on the map.

X-Con :: Dirty Life
7.5Overall Score