Montgomery, Alabama has come a long ways since the days of Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement. These days, it may be just as well known for the beats and rhymes of Daniel 'Big Pimp' Thomas and Tavares 'Mr. G' Webster - collectively known as Dirty. The national debut album of their album "The Pimp & Da Gangsta" in 2001 made a sensation with the club smash "Hit Da Floe," accompanied by a video so colorful and amusing one might have mistaken it for the latest OutKast hit. In fact the long shadow of Andre and Big Boi have been the curse. The duo are often unfairly labelled as the Johnny-Come-Latelys trying to duplicate instead of innovators with something that's not so fresh and clean, but so krunk and Dirty.
"Keep it Pimp & Gangsta" is their attempt to build momentum off their debut while continuing to establish their own sound and style. Production wise, their only similarity to any other group will be found in the work of Mannie Fresh on "That's Dirty." Otherwise, Kevin 'Khao' Cates, 'The Highly Repsected' Dr. Fangaz, and Cool and Dre take care of the beats throughout. Each has signature songs on the LP - the latter duo showing an affinity for the Ohio Players on "Think About U", Dr. Fangaz relying on a funk bounce with understated production on "Hoochie Mama" while Cates has a mixture of the symphonic and the synthesized on "Chicken Hustlin'."
Make no mistake about it, these rappers are not here to bring the truth to light or change the world. The Pimp and the Gangsta were put on this earth as rappers to talk bad and make it sound good, just like any hoe hustlin' pimp or Fleetwood ridin' gangster should. Speaking of which, "My Cadillac" may be the epitome of what Dirty is all about. They're not trying to be the world's hardest or the baddest, but they might be two of the flyest:
"Young shawty I'm The Pimp, so you know my game cold
Step out my house, pink gators on my toes
Brush all my teeth cause my whole grill gold
Tryna hit tha club befo' they all close
Hop in the 'llac, Fleetwood eighty-fo'
Twenty inch D's with the triple gold spokes
Creep in the do' with my pockets on swoll
Limp 'cross the flo' like both of my legs broke
Slide to the bar to get me som'n cold
Got a glass of Thunderbird cause I can't stay in mode
Put down my glass and hit the dance flo'
Don't get mad at a pro, what you cuffin my hands fo'?" - The Pimp
"Now when I hop off in the 'llac, I swerve the interstate
Just because I'm cheifin 'dro and I'm smugglin heavy weight
Keep the wood by my jeans and break 'em off a cake
And sip on Hennessy 'til I start to hallucinate
Pull my way down the block cause it's mo' money to make
And plus I got some mo' cookie dough I need to bake
But you can buy a bag of mine, I betcha you gon' be straight
Cause the soft ain't got no cut and the wood ain't got no shape
Cause the fools run to me whenever they wanna taste
Cause they say that mine taste like baked potato and steak
Well excuse me if I done took all yo' pay
Cause I just set up shop and been workin for one day" - The Gangsta
At last, the distinctions between Dirty and OutKast should be crystal clear. While it's true both groups are from the Dirty South, and both have two unique rappers whose voices offset each other in a complimentary fashion, Dirty is not lacing any socially redeeming messages into their raps. Then again, people like to paint the world into black and white abstracts of wrong and right. Dirty is more than the message in the songs they write, it's their swift and interchangable style that can go from fast to slow, hard to light, pimp to gangsta that is redeeming in itself. Music you can bop your head to, bounce your truck to, dance with your shawty too even if it's not her birthday. Maybe they sum up their rebellious hip-hop style on "Where's Da Luv" best:
"We've been rappin since the third grade, and I ain't lyin
Y'all saw that footage Killa Dilla played, way from eighty-nine
But I said that, and I say this, we paid our dues up front in the game
So why you hatin BITCH?! You ain't got no love?
And you don't like our music then get out from around me
You ain't gotta speak to me I ain't mad about it so why you frownin?
But if you got beef with me we can hook it up if it's necessary
I was born and raised in Alabama, so you sho' don't scare me!"
The pride Dirty has in their Southern heritage, style and drawl makes this album a worthy competitor in a field of hundreds of albums with similar styles and topics. The Pimp and the Gangsta aren't afraid to get their hands Dirty in the Alabama mud, and if you're open to the funk you'll find Dirty ain't such a bad thing to be.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: March 4, 2003