Were you asking the question “Whatever happened to Gangsta Boo?” I wasn’t. Although I’m well familiar with her status as “official crunk bitch” due to years with the Three 6 Mafia, I’ve never been overly excited about her solo career one way or the other. In fairness I can say the same of all solo albums from Three 6 Mafia members or affiliates. While I might pick up an album like “Da Unbreakables” once in a while out of curiosity, I generally draw the same conclusion each time – hard beats but hard to tolerate lyrics. Investing in their group albums is a way to have two or three of their hot singles in one shot, rather than buying each seperately. Their solo albums don’t generate much noise that way, except perhaps for Boo’s 1998 release “Enquiring Minds,” as her song “Where Dem Dollas At” broke out beyond a regional hit and became a club anthem nationally.

For some reason though I decided to flip and take a chance on “Street Ringers Vol. 1 – The Mix Tape.” It certaily wasn’t due to an overwhelming list of guest stars. While it’s true Bun B is on “Sippin & Spinning,” 8 Ball is on “Zoned Out,” and Playa Fly has a couple of guest appearances, nothing really screamed at me “must own.” If she could have roped in a few more big name Southern rap guests like Ludacris, Devin the Dude, T.I. and Scarface for example, the back cover would be more impressive. Of course reviewers don’t have the luxury of judging a book by it’s cover, which is a good thing in Boo’s case. While I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to say this about a female rapper, there’s just something about seeing Boo act slutty on her album’s cover that doesn’t scream “crunkest bitch of the South” to me – it screams “horseface in a push up wearing some Daisy Dukes.” The aforementioned back cover is worse: her hair looks fake (the color streaks don’t help), her makeup can’t cover up how long her nose is, and I can’t even be sure her eyes are real. That smile she’s got on the back might say “I’ll suck your dick for ten dollars” but it certainly doesn’t say “I’m a rapper not to be trifled with.”

Okay all that aside, how are the lyrics on “Street Ringers?” Well in six years time, Boo hasn’t really changed much. I suppose that’s a good thing if you were a fan of hers from the get-go, but if you’re not then you won’t really find anything redeeming here – in fact you’ll wish for a few more of those guest stars I mentioned to show up and break the monotony. “Soap Opera” describes Boo pretty well – she wants to create some drama, but it’s all just an act for your entertainment. The problem with that is she’s not a good actress:

“I’m from the hood young nigga, gunshots I hear ’em all night
We ain’t got no food in the fridge, mom and dad fight
Tryin to make it in this rap game as a young buck
Dropped out of school on the block, nigga posted up
What you niggaz know about, stayin up late
Tryin to make a hit, tryin to get a gold or platinum plaque
Up in the industry, niggaz hated me cause I was Gangsta Boo
So I switched to Lady, tryin to give ’em somethin brand new
I done saw some stuff, gettin shot up in the Memphis streets
Still I’m not gon’ stop until you pussies start to bury me
If you wanna test, I suggest you niggaz pack a vest
Cause I’m shootin venom, that’s gon’ knock a plug up in ya”

Combined with a weak beat that goes uncredited (as do all the songs on this “Mix Tape”) and some equally weak singing on the hook, it’s just an all around bad song. It really doesn’t have anything to do with her being a woman, despite all the cheap shots I took earlier (and duly apologize for). I can picture any other member of Three 6 Mafia spitting the same verse above, calling the song “Real Nigga Struggles,” and thinking the lyrics would be just as whack. Her delivery is uninspiring too. “Where Dem Dollas At” was a success partly because Boo was a major new bitch in rap, but mostly because of the hellafied crunk beats her fellow Three 6 members supplies. It’s interesting how conspicuous they are by their absence – DJ Paul and Juicy ‘J’ aren’t found on any of these tracks. Boo continues to portray herself as “the official street ringer” on mediocre track after track, including “freestyles” like “Style Jacking” which don’t sound any different from the “writtens” they are surrounded by. I tried hard to find songs which at least stood out musically and only four qualified: “Sippin & Spinnin,” “Zoned Out,” “We in the Streets” and “Confessionist.” Since these tracks are the start and the end of “Street Ringers,” that means there’s a whole lot of filler in the middle on this 47 minute album. Perhaps with Three 6 on production this whole project would sound better, but Boo’s delivery would still be flat and uninspired and her rhymes tired. This one is for her hardcore fanbase only… if there is such a thing.

Gangsta Boo :: Street Ringers Vol. 1 - The Mix Tape