Every now and then a new city or hood pops up on the national hip-hop radar to get a little slice of the spotlight. Surely San Antonio has had some representatives in the hip-hop nation before now, given the large number of hot rappers to come out of Texas, but to be honest Dem Nation Boyz is the first and only one I can come up with. Their "Ready 4 Drama" is therefore either a good start for the San Antonio rap scene, or the latest edition to underground Texas rap.
Since most people confuse "underground" as a term synonymous with what's derisively called "backpacker rap" let's get one thing clear at the start: "underground" in this case means "from a small record label yet to receive national recognition", which in this case is CrunkNation Entertainment. They're definitely looking to make a come-up with this CD though, which is professionally produced by The Track Addicts and features three hungry rappers out to make a name for themselves: Skinny Black (the label's founder), Young Tre and Goldie Mack.
The artists in Dem Nation Boyz show a lot of potential throughout this debut, and live up to it on several thimping Dirty South tracks; among them the tweaked out synth and bugged out singing of "Da Catburglars", the olbigatory bounce song "Get it Crunk", and the pulsing bass of "By This Time Next Year." On a fifteen track album though there are times when the action seems to lag, probably owing to their relative inexperience in the game to date. The place they could least afford this is right at the start of the CD, which is saddled with amateur songs like "Let's Give 'Em Somethin (To Talk About)", where The Track Addicts rely on an overly simplistic loop and a bassline that has too little variance from bar to bar. "No Motive" probably needs a rethink too. Although the beat is mo' better, the raps are presented with a lack of confidence that betrays their braggadocious raps like, "I'm cold like ice, let the young nigga roll the dice/live wicked behind the trigger when I stole yo' life."
Overall Dem Nation Boyz and The Track Addicts aim to be in that big-time superstar league fellow Texans like U.G.K. and Scarface have achieved, but need a little bit more polishing before they'll be on hit. Even for crunked out slow-style Southern rap, they sometimes need to try a LITTLE harder to stay on beat. Fans of raps from the Dirty South can appreciate this CD, but even they will be a little put off by the fact the disc showcases so much promise but is ultimately inconsistant in it's delivery. If you're looking to check out the sound of San Antonio though, Dem Nation Boyz are good representers for a city whose status will surely be on the rise in the future.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 5 of 10
Originally posted: March 5, 2002