With “Down South Block Starz” the “Block Starz” series enters its fourth season. Like previous editions, the sampler offers a platform for lesser known regional artists. The promotion mentions two Block Starz alumni who since went on to bigger things – Wiz Khalifa and Machine Gun Kelly. Their status may therefore be subject to change, but right now the acts featured on “Down South Block Starz” can’t bank on the name recognition that traditionally helps sell rap music. The only household name is Lil’ Flip, who assists New Orleans duo Southern Dynasty on “Pop a Band.” Another group to profit from H-Town expertise are Hazel Green, AL’s Loced Out Entertainment, who team up with Swishahouse’s Lil Young for “Blowing Swishas in Tha House,” a smoked out session over a solid concoction of low and high strings.
Coincidentally or not, the two songs mentioned are delivered with a certain aplomb. They give off an air of coolness whereas the rest of the offerings seem to be trying a little bit too hard. Representing Baton Rouge, LA, Delwin The Krazyman has a thing for flamboyant sparring partners (Ceddybu Da Rap Sumo, Lega-C) but both “Macho Man” and “Sex Fein” are the type of dopey, dumbed down fare that got southern rap a bad name. The stereotype is reinforced by Ariginal (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and his “Out here grindin’/’bout my money” platitudes on “See Ya Boy”. He’s a little more creative on “Swaginonamillion” but limits himself with that same ol’ “Diamonds in my watch, girls on my jock / still posted with that white girl on the block” talk. Crown Caesar’s (Raleigh, NC) harmless husky vocal tone is the only thing to stand out from “Diesel,” while Billie Creed from Waycross, GA drags the lyrical quality of this compilation even further down with “Ain’t I Fly”:
“I grind all night, stack all day
Bitch I’m paid, so bitch don’t play
Yeah your boy don’t mess, I’m drunk in this bitch
Better grab your chick, cause she on my dick
Shawty fuck who you with, yeah you know how I get
Why you hatin’ on me? Cause you ain’t ’bout shit”
Don’t look for the soulmen to save the day. Having neither a good singing nor rapping voice, Mannie Fresh protÃ©gÃ© The Show delivers pointless pillow talk over the cookie-cutter R&B of “Breakfast in Bed,” and Allen Forrest out of Fort Campbell, KY has an impressive resume on Wikipedia but nothing to show for it on the redundant “Written in Da Starz.” Closer “After the Club (Remix)” has a bit of a ‘controversial’ past, being called “Waffle House” upon first release and then being renamed when the restaurant chain objected to the publicity. Ariginal and Cin’atra Da Mobsta join J.R. Bricks on the remix – and it remains a wholly unremarkable song that’s not worth any commotion.
Whether you love or hate the South, you heard these tunes before over the past decade. Plus you heard them better done. The only track to even sound somewhat contemporary is “Jose Rose” by Richmond, VA duo Junnie Mac & Illa Scorsese who bring East and South together in A$AP Rocky fashion. The South has plenty of prolific rap artists that you should know. There’s a reason you don’t know the ones on “Down South Block Starz.” They’re just not that good. It looks like the “Block Starz” concept has hit the proverbial brick wall.