Forgive the interruption, but to do this review right I have to get personal. After reviewing over a half dozen albums this week, all of the different albums I’ve listened to are starting to run together into one big blur. In fact the month of December has been obnoxious with major new rap releases all coming out simultaneously. A short list of ones covered would include Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill, De La, Jay-Z Nas, OutKast, Timbaland and Too $hort and this Mystikal review aside there’s still records like Master P’s “Gameface” and the Meth + Redman “How High” soundtrack left to do!

I’ve said the market for rap albums was overcrowded before, but little did I know that by making that statement I was ASKING FOR IT. Now that I’ve been hit with a torrential downpour I’m left to ask the question, “How can a rap album stand out in such an overcrowded field?” Mystikal has a few natural advantages though. Besides having one of the most recognizable loudmouthed flows in the Dirty South, he was recently featured on the remix of Joe’s smash hit “Stutter.” Currently, a video for his lead single “Bouncin’ Back” is all over the music television channel of your choice be it BET, MTV, or someone not already owned by Viacom. So despite being swept up in the tide of too many new rap albums, Mystikal would seem to have the formula to push up above water and come in to the shore.

It doesn’t hurt that the ex-No Limit soldier has also hooked up with the ex-No Limit producers formerly known as Beats By the Pound. Now known as the Medicine Men, various members of the crew produce 6 of the 14 songs on “Tarantula.” Other heavyweights are enlisted as well: Rockwilder, Scott Storch and the Neptunes all do two beats apiece, and the other two songs “If It Ain’t Live, It Ain’t Me” and “Settle the Score” are produced by Vinnie Biggs and Juvenile respectively. Yeah that’s right, Mr. Terius Gray obviously learned some things from hanging around Mannie Fresh – the beat for the track he guests on sounds just as good as a Big Tymers rap classic.

So the music is right, the beats are tight, and the icing on the cake is guest appearances by Butch Cassidy on the title track and Redman and Method Man on “I Get it Started.” On the latter Ticallion Stallion cracks jokes like, “If school was pussy, I wouldn’t miss a day.” Damn, maybe he really did go to Harvard after all. Besides the aforementioned songs the best tracks include the bass heavy “Ooooh Yeah”, the Jamaican influenced chronic ode “Smoke One” and “The Return” – a groovy dance track where Mystikal lets everybody know what time it is:

“The return of the SHITTALKER!
The lyrical explicit content, oh-RIGINAL motherfucker
I rip and serve I hit with words like BRASS KNUCKLES
Different verses bust the ass to SMASH RECORDS
I live it how I TALK IT
I bring it how I feel it save my spot cause I done MARKED IT”

Indeed, Mystikal is back to reclaim his spot in the hip-hop diaspora. The people who doubted he could make an impact after leaving No Limit were already proved wrong last time on “Let’s Get Ready”, and this is in some respects a more complete album than the previous one. Mystikal doesn’t have to worry about being able to sell units on this album; like the title of the closing track when you hear Mystikal rap over these hot beats there’s only one thing to say – “That’s That Shit.”

Mystikal :: Tarantula
8Overall Score