Young Bleed first made his mark nine years ago with his gold-selling “My Balls and My Word.” “Once Upon a Time in Amedica” is the former No Limit artist’s fifth album, this time on C-Bo’s West Coast Mafia Records.
The album starts off with “Bac’ Road Mississippi.” Over a blues guitar riff, Young Bleed name-drops blues legend Robert Johnson and details his life as a hustler in his trademark lazy drawl. It’s a great song, all the more so because it explicitly acknowledges the debt that Southern rap owes to the blues. It’s also as inspired as the production gets, although all of the beats sound good. Producers Kid Wonder, Bezzel, Bear, Timmy Fingers, Mario Bolden, Chris Godbey, and Steven Washington provide 17 solid tracks, all using the standard Southern hip hop vocabulary of synth stabs, snare snaps, and skittering hi-hats. The majority of the tracks are slow and menacing, but there are also uptempo numbers like the stripper anthem “Shake Sump’n'” and the New Orleans bounce track “Bounce It” which features the Big Easy’s own Juvenile. C-Bo’s influence shows on the G-funk “Gangstas and Ballas.”
Lyrically, Young Bleed sticks to tales of hustling, balling, and being an OG. He has a laid back, wicked flow not unlike 50 Cent, and spits his lines effortlessly. His easy flow is in stark contrast to his lyrics, which are full of subtle and not-so-subtle threats, like on “Sound Uh Da City”:
“Open wide nigga
Take your medicine
He didn’t know he was fuckin’ with a veteran
A world rider put things aside
Hollow point shell just to do more and mesmerize you”
On “In Da Street” he declares:
“I do it to it
I don’t talk about it, nigga
Nigga, it’s the return of the real nigga
Cadillacs and glocks flowing at the heel”
While I appreciated Young Bleed’s skills on the mic, he gets too laid back for his own good at times, which makes this album drag in places. There is a line between mellow and boring, and Bleed crosses it sometimes. He does have a ton of features with a lot of Southern royalty, which helps beef up the album. Choppa, 8Ball, David Banner, Rich Boy, Trae and C-Bo all add verses to “Once Upon a Time in Amedica,” and they provide a much needed dynamic contrast to Young Bleed’s laconic rhymes. In the end, “Once Upon a Time in Amedica” is a solid effort by an experienced player. It’s enjoyable, but a few steps away from greatness.