If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Pastor Troy must be feeling highly praised these days. Ever since “We Ready – I Declare War” in 1999, artists from Bone Crusher to Miracle have come out of the South with styles and albums that sound remarkably like his. The Troy trademarks are a slow beat with a deep bass line, a methodical and unrushed flow, and lyric writing simplistic enough for a three year-old to follow. Yes, the aforementioned artists even copied his underwhelming rhyme style for the most part, sometimes making the raps Troy showcased on “Universal Soldier” seem like Shakespeare by comparison.
To their credit though, Pastor Troy and his imitators have developed a cult following that keeps their albums selling and large syndicates like Universal Records offering them national distribution. Troy has leveraged that power to put together and release an album featuring his Down South George Boyz, better known as D.S.G.B. The group consists of Lil Pete, Pin Head, Black Out, and the Pastor himself. And if ever it can be said that the sum of a rap group is greater than the individual parts, “Til Death Do Us Part” may be the proof.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not familiar enough with any contributors to the group sans Troy to identify their verses in song. That being said, as a collective they contribute in ways that are both individually fresh and thematically effective as a whole. Take “Them Devils Trying” for example. Though the tray insert incorrectly lists the song as being 53 seconds long, don’t skip over it. Slim from the Georgia Boys creates an effective mixture of piano chords and revved engines (no bullshit) for a killer track whose hook is straight gospel, with one of the D.S.G.B. crooning the words “Our God, is an awesome God, he reigns, from heaven above, with wisdom power and love.” Say word? Don’t get shook, this ain’t no DC Talk shit – although hallowed be thy name, they’ll still light a punk bitch up who thinks he’s got the balls to take them out.
Musical production is one of the most pleasant surprises of D.S.G.B. David Banner pounds out “Bust Ya Head,” a song which has the potential to be a new Southern anthem in 2004. Troy cleverly loops a sample from Loose Ends in “Sittin’ on Thangs” and continues rap’s obsession with chromed out wheels in an inoffensive way. Carl ‘Cody C’ Dorsey may be a force in the future, as songs like “My Pockets” and “In My City” prove. Southern veteran DJ Toomp can be found checking in throughout, from the moody “The Wrappa” featuring Wicket to the call-out track “Who Down 2 Ride” to the group’s personal “D.S.G.B.” theme song. And if another song on this album has the potential to crossover, it may be Taj Mahal’s G-Funk synth of “On My Block,” a song which clearly draws inspration from 2Pac without sounding overly derivative or imitative.
At over 75 minutes long, “Til Death Do Us Part” is certainly not short on material, but may be TOO GOOD of a value for the money. Listened to in one shot from start to finish, songs that might stand out more on their own start to bleed together. Still, the album finishes strongly (and violently) with cuts like “Kill Em Wit the Pump” and the title track. As for Hitman Sammy Sam, when he hears the Pastor Troy and D.S.G.B. response “Sam Diss” at the album’s end he should probably think twice about his choice of rivals. Even the sometimes lyrically weak Troy doesn’t fail to get his point across here, with the words “The best thing Oomp could do was drop you – what make it so funny, Universal is too.” When Troy says that Sam is getting old and then punctuates it with the line “I ain’t talkin’ bout your lyrics, I’m talkin’ bout your age” it’s heavy, but when he says “15 years in the game – and still ain’t got paid” – OUCH. Quite frankly, Pastor Troy earned a newfound respect for me with this joint, and with his D.S.G.B. group to boot. While they may not be poised to take over the South, they can certainly give other rap crews pushed by established Southern rap stars a run for the money. D.S.G.B. has the potential and the credentials to be in it for a long time to come.