Birdman :: 5 * Stunna :: Cash Money/Universal Records
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

"If it's M.O.B. that mean it's money over bitches daddy
That's what we see, that's how it be, ya understand me?"

When your name is Bryan 'Baby' Williams life is definitely lived M.O.B. style. The only thing that changes over time is who the "bitches" are. Sometimes it can be the women you meet in the club, sometimes it can be the very artists you signed to your label, sometimes it can even be the other rappers you are in competition with. The forms of competition are many - who can make the most money, who can drive the fanciest car, who can sell the most units in the first week and so on. For a rapper who has claimed several times that he only picked up a mic to flow solo when so many of his signees flew the coup, the Birdman has done surprisingly well in all of these categories. The first single off "5 * Stunna" is a toast to this success appropriately titled "Pop Bottles":

"As I recline behind my desk
I ain't got a lot of Nikes but I got a lot of checks
Got my own shoe brand, new on the set
Went from sittin in a cell to sittin on a jet
From shittin in a cell to shittin on a jet
I lost too many friends, but I won too many bets
I made too much money, I didn't make enough yet
So I scratched and yes Jr. is the best
So many niggas from my hood on they back
So many niggas from your hood on they back
That's why we so paid and it be like that
I'd rather pop a bottle before I pop a gat"

The beat by Raymond 'Sarom' Diaz & Steve Morales isn't excessively complicated, but the wailing sirens and finger snaps are catchy enough for Baby and cohort Lil Wayne to get flossy on. Generally speaking the Birdman knows his limitations and works within them to the fullest, making the wise choice to rely on bangers that help him make his point. Even though Kane Beatz only has one track on the album he makes the most of "Fully Loaded" - rock guitars, wailing singers yelling "NOOO", cocking guns and tinkling pianos all combine into something fresh over drum beats that none of them would be individually. TMIX is one of the favored producers throughout, popping up on Lil Wayne duets like the banging "I Run This" and the Kanye-worthy "Believe Dat" among others. Fliptones also impresses on the reggae-influenced "Make Way" featuring Fat Joe and Lil Wayne, and the slow grinding "So Tired."

That's not to say the album is without mistakes. Unfortunately Birdman tends to love skits with Italian mobster impersonators speaking about gangster shit, and including the intro and outro there are five of these time wasters on tap. Also even though Birdman plays to his limitations as a rapper, those limitations still show in relatively banal topic matter that doesn't offer any new lyrical subjects over previous releases. "Love My Hood" doesn't even talk about hood love that much other than the chorus - he spends most of the time bragging about his wealth and status. He spends most of the ENTIRE ALBUM doing the same. "5 * Stunna" is better than you'd expect, but for Baby a.k.a. Birdman that's been true of almost his entire catalogue.

Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10

Originally posted: December 12, 2007