Pastor Troy :: By Any Means Necessary :: Universal Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Pastor Troy prides himself on two things - his tough image as a "Universal Soldier" and his leadership of the Down South Georgia Boys. He is certainly one of the most recognized names in the field of Southern rap music, and not just for his public feuding with Master P. Troy can by some right claim to be ahead of the game, having been on the scene since the late 1990's while Johnny-Come-Latelies of the scene like Bone Crusher and Hitman Sammy Sam have risen to fame and popularity doing rap styles easily mistaken for his own. It would be bad enough if they were from other parts of the country, but the fact they're from his hometown of Atlanta must rub salt ALL THE WAY up in his wounds.

On "By Any Means Necessary," his third major label album for Universal Records, Troy clearly aims to shift the balance of power in his direction. Two of the South's biggest rap stars are lined up for cameos on this album - Eightball raps on "Boys to Men" and Juvenile appears on "Nice Change." That's all to the good, but what may surprise some is that Troy's first single is neither of these tracks. Instead Troy's rolling with the inefctions DJ Toomp produced "Ridin' Big," which could become one of the year's monster Down South anthems. It's introduction is both comedic and pimped out. Troy complains to the listener, "I'm outside 30 minutes tryin to figure out which car match my outfit!" Does he really ball like that? Who's to say he doesn't? He's certainly not backing down from the boast in his rap:

"Cadillac, Escalade
I'm candy red, I'm sittin on blades
And I'm.. I'm ridin big ho - big ho
I'm ridin big ho - big ho
1979, Trans Am
All dem niggaz can say is GOD DAMN
{You see Troy car?) I'm ridin big ho - big ho
I'm ridin big ho - big ho
Lexus Coupe - uh-huh, Q45 - c'mon
Gettin my dick sucked, a-while I drive!
Nigga.. I'm ridin big ho - big ho
I'm ridin big ho - big ho"

Surely not the most lyrically complex rap song ever recorded, but then for the most part Pastor Troy's songs never have been. What "Ridin' Big" has in spades though is attitude - a big beat, big bass, a big fat bouncing sound of pure crunk to match Troy big boast for big boast in his imitable big rap style - as much yelled or shouted at the mic as it is spoken or flowed. Therein is the crux of the matter; because Troy can certainly make the argument other rappers from Atlanta and the South ought to be writing him checks payable to the Department of Style Theft. You wouldn't know he's bitter though. On Da Masta produced "Atlanta" he's showing nothing but love for his hometown while Genesis R. assists him on the hook by crooning "I always will, rep for you." And there's plenty of trunk rattling songs you could put the amps and subwoofers in your ride to the test with. The Trick Daddy-esque funk of "About to Go Down" and the take no shit rowdy Michael 'Kook' Mason track "Fuck Them Niggaz" each stand out in this regard. There's also smooth shit for the cruise too, like "Crazy" featuring Lil Will, and the witty reinterpretation of "Friends" by Whodini into "Benz" featuring DJ Mars.

What knocks can you hold against this album then? For one, at forty-five minutes, it seems to be over very quickly. And honestly, I'm not trying to be a playa hater at all, but it's pretty clear that Troy limited the amount of guests on his album just so his lyricial defecits wouldn't stand out so much against peers of greater skill. The irony of listening to a Pastor Troy album is that he sounds more like a Lil Jon type of artist, who should be playing the background and occasionally shouting "OKAY!" or "C'MON!" while the more adept writers and rhymers shine. That's part of the reason D.S.G.B.'s "Til Death Do Us Part" was such a surprisingly good album, but it's also the same reason Troy's "By Any Means Necessary" suffers - it's just too much lyrical banality. On Troy's "I'm Warning Ya" introduction he declares himself the truth in rap while simultaneously stating "you don't feel me, you just a motherfuckin ho." The problem is it's not that simple. I'm feeling Troy's beats for the most part, and I'm feelin' his single a hell of a lot cause it does what a good single should do - it's catchy and fun. Ultimately though hearing Troy say he's "keepin it real" twenty million times is not. I can recommend "By Any Means Necessary" for the beats, but I'd much rather recommend BDP's "By ALL Means Necessary" for lyrics. In the end Troy does deserve his props as the originator of his style, but if the imitators like Bone Crusher are whack in their own right then perhaps people should stop imitating and start innovating.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 1.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 4.5 of 10

Originally posted: March 30, 2004