The Singles File Volume 030

EDITOR'S NOTE: All of the reviews found in 'The Singles File' are being presented WITHOUT scores. You are left to interpret the dopeness/wackness of the single on the words of the writer alone. If you have any questions about this format, please e-mail Matt Jost for more information.

Artist: P$C feat. T.I. and Lil' Scrappy
Title: I'm a King
Label: Grand Hustle/Atlantic
Writer: Tom Doggett

By this point in time, Lil' Jon can absolutely do no wrong. Do you really expect a lineup like this on the vocals to let him down? The mechanical drive of Lil' Jon's production style is on full display in insanely catchy fashion. A faint whistle accompanies the usual eclectic blend of noises that will get any chin under 35 nodding right quick. A memorable hook steps around the usual roundabout bragging to simply state what most rappers take entire verses to say. The rappers don't burn the place down, but each man is more than adequate to make "I'm a King" a true summer hit. Expect to hear this everywhere rap music is being blared. Pick this one if you like, or go catch it on the "Hustle & Flow" soundtrack. Regardless, disappointment will not be a factor.

Artist: Yo Gotti
Title: Full Time
Label: TVT Records
Writer: Matt Jost

Stand-out singles are rare these days, but "Full Time" might just fit the bill. Maybe it's Yo Gotti's Memphis heritage that makes this song just a tad bit more daring than standard Southern stuff. Producer Swizzo sets a slow pace with stealthily distorted guitars grinding away, sustained by thick snares and a whole lot of low end. The beat is repetitive, but different enough to catch your attention, eventually revealing a carefully crafted track. Gotti sports a heavy drawl, which is counterbalanced by a ragga-accented hook. The lyrics circle around a basic concept that produces a string of full time/part time comparisons ("I'm a part time rapper, full time trapper / cut my own bricks and shit and own my own masters"), from which they stray far enough not to be gimmicky. Makes you look forward to Gotti's forthcoming album "Back to da Basics." Which is exactly the point of a well-chosen single.

Artist: Rasheeda
Title: Georgia Peach
Label: D-Lo/Jive
Writer: Matt Jost

Up until now, Rasheeda was something of an anomaly among the Trinas and Khias of this world. Rather than the raunchy, she was the rowdy type. Well, not anymore. "Georgia Peach," the follow-up to "Rocked Away," her duet with Lil' Scrappy from earlier this year, sees her flaunting her sex appeal to the fullest. Producer Jasper laces her with a deceivingly innocent lullaby but raises a few eyebrows with the dubious inclusion of what sounds like children chanting "Lalala..." during the hook. Meanwhile, the sexual theme is omnipresent from the very first moan, but as you follow the clean version of "Georgia Peach," it takes some time to realize what exactly the song is about. It dawned on me by verse two: "You on the run, got a federal case? / I know a place you can bury your face / Yum-yum, go and get you a taste / Gotta 'shake, let it go' like Mase / but your tongue gotta know how to act / that's the only way I 'welcome you back'." Still, the edit doesn't quite prepare you for the explicit version, which not only fills in the usual blanks but also features additional explicitness. As a whole, "Georgia Peach" is as good as raunchy rap gets these days. Rasheeda should be applauded for trying to even the score in a battle of the sexes where the men lead by a landslide with dozens of songs from "She Swallowed It" to "Put it in Your Mouth." What "Georgia Peach" means for Rasheeda's further career and her credibility, remains to be seen.

Artist: Double H
Title: So Serious
Label: Blo Records
Writer: Matt Jost

Compared to the legions of rappers-turned-actors, the actors-turned-rappers guild is a highly exclusive club. Probably for good reason, because it means joining the likes of David Faustino and Brian Austin Green. But now it looks like a special kind of actor is making her way into the rap game. Her name is Heather Hunter, and because I can safely say that I haven't yet had the privilege of witnessing her uhm, acting chops, this review focuses strictly on this song introducing the upcoming album "The Unexpected." Ignoring her professional background for a minute, she sounds like any upcoming gangsta bitch on "So Serious": "I'm a fancy broad / but try to cross me and I'm on you hard." She's Lil' Kim without the girlish undertones but also without the skills that made the former the frontrunner of female rap. With a voice devoid of any sex appeal or soul, sporting a long-drawn-out delivery, Double H manages to flow acceptably over a thuggish-ruggish A. 'Freedom' Lyles production with the help of a lot of adlibs. She marks her territory, starting off by shouting out New York and some of its boroughs, trying to take the lead ("I'm the boss bitch round here"), but also representing a larger constituency ("Ladies, stand up, we run this"). She's hardly "Uptown's finest", but assuming this is self-written and she chose the actually quite dope beat herself, this ain't as bad as expected. When she defends her decision to rap and claims to have "chicks wishin' they could press rewind," we'll take that as a clue that she wants to be respected as a rapper. That in itself deserves some respect. All we received is a one-song promo, but the actual single apparently features a Premier-produced track on the flip. I wonder if he uses that Kim quote, you know - "Handle it like a real bitch - Heather Hunter."

Artist: Pretty Ricky
Title: Your Body
Label: Atlantic
Writer: Tom Doggett

Pretty Ricky certainly have no qualms about their softened edges. After all, their desired image is projected within their stage name. The title tells everything here, as the topic is sex, and only sex. Pretty Rick are not even remotely memorable throughout the song, though the clubbing crowd will probably not notice. The Unusual Suspects lace an electronic beat that is sufficient but not heart-stopping, and the hook's unabashed crooning is the final touch. This is a nice track to hear in a club, but time shouldn't be wasted here if you're searching for the next crossover classic. "Your Body" is strictly big-budget standard material, and not much else.

Artist: Chris Brown
Title: Run It Remix
Label: Jive
Writer: Matt Jost

Okay, so without any prior knowledge about this Chris Brown character I give this promo CD a spin. The name logo, shaped like tag letters and substituting the 'i' in Chris with a microphone, made me expect a rapper. Turns out he's a singer. Then the credit said it was produced by Scott Storch. Why then does it sound like a Lil' Jon production? That, my friends, is exactly the mess we have to put up with when labels decide that hip-hop and R&B share the same gene pool, as addressed in our recent R&B editorial. That's why normally we refuse to review records whose content doesn't go beyond dancefloor drama to the extent of "Is your man on the flo'? / If he ain't, let me know." Did I mention that Juelz Santana is on the remix, whose only qualification to be labelled a remix is the fact that Juelz Santana is on it?

Artist: Trey Songz
Title: Gotta Make It Remix
Label: Atlantic
Writer: Matt Jost

Some remixes add a new beat to a song, some just add 16 bars from the hottest rapper. Trey Songz' "Gotta Make It Remix" is different. The original was an uneventful song about love and loyalty, a simple "Stand By Your Man" for young couples, with Trey promising, "I can get us out the hood and have us living good," and Twista following up with "I'ma drape you with diamonds and furs." The remix, produced by Ron G & Troy Taylor, incorporates the intro to "I Gotta Make It" the album, a short pep talk by no other than Aretha Franklin. Then Twista gets replaced by Juvenile, who reflects, "What I wore in the daytime was what I wore as my night clothes / concerned about a meal when I shoulda been shuttin' my eyes closed," while Trey turns the song into an inspirational piece addressing "shorties" and "homies" alike. Unexpectedly adding depth to a popular song is an idea other artists might want to consider.

Artist: The Faculty
Title: Shake That Sh**
Label: D&H Records/Phat Duck Records
Writer: Matt Jost

We're living in a time when label reps don't ask aspiring artists "What makes you different?" but "Why can't you be like everyone else?" The Faculty ain't that much different, but neither do they want to be like everyone else. "Shake That Sh**" comes across like a Foreign Legion rendition of "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," as the rappers motivate you to maintain your mental balance: "If your job is on your back and you're ready to quit, you need to (shake that shit) / If you a chick that ain't thick with no ass and small tits, just (shake that shit) / If you ain't paid no rent and all your money is spent, you need to (shake that shit) / If your day-to-day struggles got you stressin' a bit, come on and (shake that shit)." The performances and the Jake One beat are solid, but to succeed on all levels, the song would need to be even more anthemic, the beat even more party-ready, the lyrics even more to the point. Nevertheless, "Shake That Sh**" is one of those songs that deserve universal attention, because the more attention such songs receive, the earlier the industry will reconsider its priorities.

Artist: MC Unite
Title: Saturday Night Special b/w Rock Solid
Label: Hands On Recordings
Writer: Matt Jost

"Saturday Night Special" starts off promising, a throwback beat consisting of thumping drums and sharply cut guitar riffs with the MC in storytelling mode. Everything is set up for a killer break and loads of punchlines, but with a hook basically made up of plain Chipmunks vocals (the Disney, not the soulful type) repeating "Saturday night, Sa-Saturday night," you're in for a huge disappointment. The funky loop has you waiting for something to happen, instead you get a rapper who doesn't exactly wield the sharpest tongue (both figuratively and literally), who fails to come up with memorable lines or unexpected plot twists. That's simply unacceptable almost 20 freakin' years after Schoolly D's classic "Saturday Night" and considering advanced contemporary club joints. "Rock Solid" flips the script with better lyrics but a worse beat, some kind of minimalist, muffled version of Punjabi MC's "Mundian To Bach Ke." Despite a more inspired performance on this second track, MC Unite has yet to learn the meaning of rocking solidly, just as producer DJ Myxzlplix needs to find ways to add atmosphere to both the rapper's vocals and his own instrumental.

Originally posted: August 30, 2005