The "Good Side" is 35 minutes long, plus one second. The "Bad Side" is 40 minutes long, plus 45 seconds. Grand total? 75 minutes, 46 seconds. This might normally be trivial information to impart at a review's start, but in this case it proves that the "double disc" CD release has become more hype than substance. Given that a normal CD release can top out at 74 minutes without using any gimmicks or tricks, all Master P needed to do was cut just one "Commercial" skit to meet the limit. How about #4? It's nearly two minutes long, and it's a complete waste of space on the "Bad Side" disc. It really doesn't make sense when you consider it would have been cheaper for P to press a one disc album; not to mention a double disc release requires the special flip up tray to hold them in a standard sized CD case. The fact this album is split into two CD's is both silly and pointless.
In the end all gimmicks play second fiddle to the actual content of the music. It makes no difference whether P packages it as one disc or two, throws in a free DVD, a platinum edition cover, and a free ticket in every 1000th package to tour his No Limit mansion. Who cares? P simply has to uphold the standard he set on his past hits. Hits that span over a decade in hip-hop, from "Bout It Bout It" to "Make Em Say Ugh" to "Step to Dis" to "Bout Dat" and "Ooohhhwee" among others. Part of P's success was his supporting cast though, and over the years of self-proclaimed war he's lost a lot of his "No Limit Soldiers" to defection (Mystikal), capture by the enemy (his brother C-Murder is doing a prison bid), or they were simply hired mercenaries whose contracts expired (Snoop Dogg). Perhaps that's why these days Master P calls his record label "The New No Limit" - a smaller and leaner army, but possibly more dangerous and lethal as a result. Suddenly a double disc makes more sense - after a three year hiatus, it's P's way of declaring WAR on the industry.
One thing you can't really fault P on is consistancy. Depending on your point of view, that means P is either "staying true" to his hardcore gangster roots, or that he simply doesn't have anything better to say. In truth it's a little of both, but if you take his raps with a grain of salt it's all good. P's flow is still as gruff as ever, still long on the Southern drawl he's so well recognized for, but these days the "unghhhh" cries of ghetto pain are not to be found - for better or worse P has retired that gimmick. Master P gets off to a good start on "Act a Fool" thanks to a sick beat from Lil Jon, whose "WHAT?!" and "OAH-KAYYY!" have in fact usurped P's ghetto moan as the South's #1 rap gimmick, to the point Dave Chappelle has parodied them on his TV show. Just like the "unghhhh" though, you can't knock it if it works. P turns in a performance suitable for such a hard track:
"Still posted on the block, still slangin that coke
Still runnin from the cops, still lettin them bitches know
Still fuckin with Jamaicans, blowin that ganjay
Uptown New Orleans where them thugs gon' find me
Rollin with them head bussaz, my niggaz splittin wigs
A couple of fuckin G's nigga, it could get did
Straight from the hood, and I represent the street
Send money to the pen, still fuckin with C (OAH-KAYYY!)"
It's exactly what you'd expect from P, no more or no less - a tough guy image with occasionally cartoonish threats of violence. Skipping over a skit with C-Murder on the phone with P and the incredibly short song "We All We Got" (clocking in at under 90 seconds) you come to "Who Want Some" - an Myke Diesel produced club fighting anthem that's simple but effective. He also handles "Let Em Go" featuring Curren$y, which deserves dap for using symphonic strings and strong bass drops to ominous effect. Jon comes back to cameo and produce "Who Them Boyz," with topic matter that's pretty much interchangeable for track one or track four. This one's noteable for Jon's beat, a C-Murder cameo rap recorded live from jail, and a new female rapper named Liberty who unfortunately for her sounds like a poor man's Mia X. Myke Diesel continues to impress on the somber, Tupac-esque "Why They Wanna Wish Death" featuring Afficial, the short but intense "Anything Goes", and the first disc's last track "Them Jeans." This is also the album's first single, which is no surprise given it's a light-hearted ode to big butts, something Sir Mix-A-Lot will tell you firsthand ALWAYS sells records:
"I'm country, she country, we country
Come closer, it's a free country
Damn you cute, girl you fine
Keep it right there, I wanna make you mine
Don't play no games, I gotta keep it real
Got the +Magic Stick+, and a gold grill
Shake what you got in them jeans (them jeans)
Cause thugs need love, girl you know what I mean
Hold up Ellie Mae, you could work it like that?
Rock the boat and let it wobble from the back!"
Moving on to the self-professed "Bad Side" one finds nothing like Ice Cube's classic "Death Certificate" where each side actually had a different intent. In fact, if P intended to show that his "Bad Side" was more dangerous he achieved the opposite, because this disc is the more R&B pop-oriented of the two. It starts off with the sugary "Ghetto Honey" featuring Theresa Esclovon humming melody and crooning the hook. It's followed by the second longest track out of the entire package, "That Ain't Nothing" featuring Curren$y, Romeo and Silkk the Shocker. The latter Miller brother had been surprisingly absent to this point, but what's more disappointing is that he doesn't spit the trademark rapid fire flow that made him both impossible to understand at times and a favorite among No Limit's fan base. In fact with the repeated phrase "that ain't nothing" coming at the end of every line, the song sounds like a parody of a Juvenile track.
Things quickly shift back to the pop friendly format though, with Esclovon providing vocals again on the latin-tinged "Ghetto Model." For some reason, P's flow seems to be off beat though, or perhaps the track's rhythmic claps simply weren't necessary. Things really don't get back on track for P until "Tell 'Em," another hard as nails Myke Diesel track where P talks the kind of trash his fans want and need to hear:
"My momma jacked niggaz so I don't trust no chick
Put the gas up in the tank before I give it to a trick
I got syrup in my cup mayne straight out the freezer
Pass me a blunt then throw me a heater
I see a flea up in the club, hatin on a pimp
Put the collar on your dog before I leave him with a limp
Boz looked at me mayne said - I don't give a fuck
We got the whole fuckin club sayin THROW YO' HOOD UP!
I'm the only pro baller, without a contract
But a nigga got mo' cheddar than Kobe & Shaq"
The album rounds out with a mixture of songs that continue to evoke comparisons to Tupac ("Ride for You"), songs Lil Jon already made ("We Like Them Girlz"), songs where Master P professes his love for his family ("Thug and Get Paper" with Silkk) and closes with "If" featuring another new female rapper named Souya. It seems an odd note to end on, but then again the whole presentation seems to be schizophrenic in organziation and presentation. In the end the title is perhaps more appropriate than P intended, because his new album does have both a "Good Side" and a "Bad Side" but not due to how he labelled the discs. When P's got the right beat and the right subject matter, he's not a lyrical maestro but he does do effective gangster rap you can't hate listening to. That's the good side. The bad side is that at times this album is full of watered down tracks and half-thought out concepts. Stripped down to one disc minus some skits and lesser tracks, this album might both figuratively and literally not have a "Bad Side" at all.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: March 30, 2004