It’s been a long time since Numskull and Yukmouth could be called one of the top acts in the rap game. Collectively as the Luniz, they released two albums that are West coast classics and hip-hop favorites – “Operation Stackola” and “Lunitik Muzik.” Since 1998 Yuk has been releasing solo albums, working with Numskull only sporadically at best. It’s really hard to discern why. Since going solo, Yuk’s career has at times lived up to the first syllable of his name. His ridiculously titled “Thugged Out: The Albulation” was only mildly impressive at best, and projects afterwards like “United Ghettos of America” barely made a blip on the radar. The loonie part is that there’s really no reason he should be mediocre. In the Luniz, he had a smooth flow, a charismatic delivery, and witty rhymes.

Rap-A-Lot has clearly not lost faith in him as a solo artist though, despite the fact J. Prince can’t seem to make up his name what to call the label these days – the same problem Suge Knight seems to have with The New Untouchable Death Row or whatever ridiculous appellation he’s using these days. “Godzilla” starts off on the right foot though, and it’s not humongous and scaly – or maybe it is, since the opener and title track does seem to sample his ear-piercing screech (or imitate it very well). Either way Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Hearne creates a layered audio collage which rides over a pleasant bassline, which gives Yukmouth the width and breadth to stomp all over his competition:

“Hummers in the summer, rock minks every winter
In Virginia, +The Most Beautifullest Thing+, I get in ya
Serve ya like a bartender, fuck the next contender
One phrase could end ya, to the grave I send ya
Remember, Godzilla pull up on dub spinners
I was raised in the Villa, ain’t nothin but thugs in us
Gangsters and drug dealers (geah) killers that bust a slug
in a punk nigga, hustle for scrilla don’t give a fuck nigga
Life is based on money and hoes
What type of vehicle you roll, is your necklace froze
If so, the bitches chose, your dick they rode
Keep it Godzilla my nigga, go get that dough”

Yuk even offers a surprisingly sharp assessment of what truly being ‘Godzilla’ is in the song’s outro: “If you’re iced out with a chain, and you got a car, but you payin the car note, and you live witcha MOMMA, that’s not Godzilla nigga! Get it right.” Players on layaway can’t ball with Yuk. To emphasize the point Yuk follows up with “Money & Power,” which sounds strangely like an update on the Scarface classic by the time you get to the chorus. Still, you can’t fault the Mike D beat, the Tony Montana samples, or Yukmouth’s logic about his earnings: “hustle ’til you make your money double, triple, quadruple, it’s cruicial.” “Nothin 2 a Bo$$” is also surprising, since famed DMX producer Dame Grease laces up a fat track while Benjilino croons a hook so smoothly he could give Nate Dogg comp (although the latter’s deep bass still wins e’ry time). Yuk’s lyrics are all about flashing and floss, but showcase the wit and humor that made him a favorite in the late 90’s:

“I’m from the West Coast and never-ever crip-walk
I’m like the Bird Man, platinum grill, big cross
And I’m tryin to sell a few mill like Kris Kross
I’m ultra cocky, tell a chicken get lost
Diss the boss and get ya lips ripped off
I let clips off, ya whole click soft
What you know about a hundred on a wrist watch
Twenty on ya chick watch, loungin Gucci flip flops
And I bang in the club like Rick Rock
Yuk show you how to rock that real thug hip-hop
Why you hatin? I roll through ya radio station
wit Gary Payton and The Franchise
‘llac outside on cherry Dayton’s
And rock the new blue Burberry
Make every nation feel the thug vibration, uhh
My cars talk back like Michael Knight (woo woo)
I got a hundred on a Roy Jones and Tyson fight
You wanna roll wit baller, well tonight’s ya night
I rock ice cause +The Price is Right+, step it up hater”

Things slow down a little bit on “Regime Mobstaz,” not due to the Nan Dogg beat which is heavy and thumping, but because it’s a “posse all in” cut with hot MC’s like Tech N9ne and not-so-hot rappers like Poppa L.Q. trading verses. Dame Grease comes back for “Numtastic,” which one could mistake for a Fabolous track dedicated to throwbacks. Guests like B-Legit and Dru Down are put to better use on the Nan Dogg produced “Pimp Da Bitch.” Despite the crass title, the song is surprisingly smooth despite the crass title and pleasantly reminiscent of his Luniz days. In fact, if the cuss words were cleaned up, this one would sound perfectly at home in any daytime urban contemporary mix. Nan seems to have tapped a previously unrecognized vein of talent, because the dope keeps flowing on “Do My Thang” featuring Kurupt and Roscoe. While the former’s lyrics are sadly all to typical of the true talent being lazy (he rhymes “motherfucker” with “motherfucker”) his younger brother shines, as does Yuk, over this gritty Spanish influenced funk:

“The spectacular, Peter Parker, the heat’ll spark up
Beef starter, reefer sparker, who team is harder?
I go hard in the paint like Vince Carter
Or harder than a dick in a strip parlor, I spit lava
I make it crip harder than sherm sticks in water
And get my dick licked by chicks in Prada
Get them dollars, bounce like a ‘6 Impala
Drink Crist’ ’til I pis-tal water”

“Kidnap U” is Yuk’s ode to the ladies, offering to take them away for a night of ecstasy that their inferior men can’t, since he’s “a boss like Tony Danza.” G-Casso’s beat, Yukmouth’s lyrics, and the smooth hook all make it credible. On a much harder note though is the Nan Dogg produced “Somebody Gonna Die 2 Nite.” It’s another posse up cut, but this time guests like Hussein Fatal and Tech N9ne keep the energy pumping harder until Yuk comes in at the end with a surprising verse that takes shots at No Limit that are so vicious C-Murder can probably feel them behind bars:

“Makaveli rest in peace, all these wannabe’s like Master P
All these niggaz screamin blasphemy – you ain’t ‘Pac nigga!
Tatted up in them magazines
Bandanna’ed up in them magazines – you ain’t ‘Pac
Fuck Percy, I put him in a hearse where the dirt be
I’m blood thristy, 42 shots like James Worthy
These lames in the game ain’t worthy to touch mills
Ya heard me? I bust 30 in your P. Miller derby and jersey
The Dirty Dirty is better off without you
Double X-L (XXL) doubt you, wrote a fucked up ad about you
Cause you whack as fuck, you need to let ya kids bust
Quit fuckin off ya brothers careers and give that shit up
Mini-Me nigga wanna be somebody else
Rappin like you Tupac, can’t be yaself
That’ll get you shot, better be somebody else
Everybody on No Limit sound like somebody else!
You got a nigga that sound like Dru, a nigga like Mystikal
A white boy like Eminem, the bitin is critical
Ya son wanna be Bow Wow, the shit is pitiful
What a bitch nigga would do for a hundred mill’ or two?”

WOW. Usually a rapper dissing someone on Rap-A-Lot these days comes across as a cheap ploy to get the label attention, but Yuk’s poison pen is hard to take lightly given how seriously pissed off he seems to be at Master P. Whatever the beef is, No Limit better duck when in Oakland, and Rap-A-Lot better tread lightly in New Orleans – it’s on! “Ya Boy” is a let down after such an adrenaline pumped up warlike song, especially for a Mike Dean track, but the Arch Bishop Storm produced “I Want Ya Body” featuring Aaron Hall gets the mojo back. Yuk has once again hit upon a track that would only require minor editing to be a big crossover hit. Where has Yuk been hiding this talent for the last five years? Even on tracks where he has to share the billi ng with a bunch of unknowns like the Thug Lordz (also the song’s title) he still shines the brightest. Tracks like “What it Do” featuring E-Roc and Bun B and “Go Hard” are some Southern fried rap that could rattle screwed up mixes coast to coast, but jams like the Dame Grease laced “Do it B.I.” and Nan Dogg produced “Model Chickz” rock it just as hard.

By the album’s Mike Dean produced closer “Hard Tymez” featuring Z-Ro and Trae, Yukmouth shows that he has cleanly made the transition to the Dirty South at long last, while recapturing some of the joie-de-vivre that made him a strong West coast don in the first place. To be clear, it’s far from perfection though. Yuk’s album runs a little long, has too many guests that are inferior to him in rap skills, and could use more Nan Dogg and Dame Grease beats in places. On the other hand the album is completely devoid of interludes and skits, which makes it more compact and helps keep you ridin’ through even where a song or two occasionally lags. There’s plenty of good material to go around though, so in the end “Godzilla” is an apt name for his new album – he’s come back in a BIG way.

Yukmouth :: Godzilla
7.5Overall Score