JT The Bigga Figga has recently gained more press because of his release of Game's older recordings than he has from his own work. That will hopefully change as JT shifts his focus back to his own solo material and further developing his GetLow imprint. "Who Grind Like Us?" is the first solo release from JT in a good while, but he picks up right where he left off. Appearances from the likes of Game, Young Buck, and Blu Chip may expose JT to a wider fan base, but long time listeners will not be disappointed by the material found on the album. Coupled with his efforts online (including instant downloads of classic JT albums and JT's own "CEO Manual" book) and a recent multi-million dollar deal with Rap-A-Lot, this album is sure to gain JT more recognition for the independent empire he has built out in the Bay.
"Back 2 Back" starts things off with a with a typical fast-paced Bay area track. Over a funked out bass line and synth stabs, JT relates his tales of hustling in and out of the streets. "We Can Get Low" flips things on the beat with a pounding drum-driven beat layered sparsely with instruments. JT comes through with an ode/anthem for his imprint, Get Low Records. The title track, "Who Grind Like Us?," actually misses the target with an uninspiring beat. "Neva Personal" picks things up again as one of Game's pre-Aftermath verses makes an appearance over a bounce-beat. "Drop Ya Thangs" continues the energy, though the topic matter isn't original as JT drops another thugged out trash-talking track. Keak Da Sneak shows up on "Game Recognize Game 2" where he spits over a darker beat. Keak's flow is a hate it or love it affair, but personally his fast-paced snarl is the perfect way to add variety to any album. "Get On Ya Feet Girl" isn't the best the ode/motivational track to women because of a generic beat, but the topic is commendable.
Just seven tracks into the album and one can tell that JT has taken a somewhat different approach to his music this time around. Rather that sticking to the gangsta funk typical of bay area music, JT actually adds a lot of variety on "Who Grind Like Us?" Aside from the anthems for the ladies, JT also aims for a more fast-paced and danceable approach on the beats, creating songs that could be a hit both in the streets and in the club. It's definitely JT's most accessible album to date, but he still needs time to perfect the balance of street and commercial music. JT seems to have mastered the formula on tracks like "I Make Stars" and "Making Me Choose." "Making Me Choose" samples the same song as Tony Yayo's "Pimpin," but JT's west coast spin beats out Yayo's version. "Actin' Shady" is another ladies track, but doesn't sound as corny as one would expect and is a decent attempt. "Sucka Free City" misses the mark with a generic synthesized beat and a lack of energy from the emcees. "Truth Rap" also is lackluster as another Game verse gets recycled over another deficient beat.
"Who Grind Like Us?" is a hit or miss affair. JT manages to hit way more than he misses, but it's far from a perfect outing. Long time fans will find plenty of the JT music they've grown to love, but will probably be turned off by the attempts at commercial music. The commercial attempts aren't all bad, but it's clear JT still needs more time to make the transition from street star to super star. With his notorious work ethic and hustle it's clear JT could get there if he wanted to. Sadly, on the outro track JT declares his retirement from the rap game after his 12th solo album. He states he's going to dedicate the rest of his career to the business side of the rap game. So while this album sounded like the start of JT's ascension to national exposure, it seems it will just end up as a testament to what could have been.
Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: October 11, 2005