If you haven’t heard of Suga Free, I can’t be mad about it. Despite having several nationally released discs and a legendary reputation as Pomona’s pimp rap kingpin, the Suga Free phenomenon still remains one of rap’s best kept secrets. Part of the problem for the pimp is the inaccessability of his topic matter to the mainstream. The high speed, on and offbeat, raunchy and punchline laden flows Free spits will never be crossover shit. It takes an incredible promotional juggernaut the size of Bishop Don ‘Magic’ Juan to become a quasi-household name, and Free is too busy spitting his game and enjoying the fruits of his labor to promote himself full time. If anything the fact that I didn’t know about “Smell My Finger” until a RapReviews reader pointed out he dropped a new album proves my point. If I consider myself a Suga Free fan and even I didn’t know he had new shit out, that shows just how obscure Free remains outside of his native California.

“Free” might as well stand for “freestyle” on most of his songs, because when one listens to any Suga Free album it seems like rhyming runs secondary to sounding fly. For most other rappers trying to pull this off would be problematic, but that slight drawl to Free’s voice undoubtedly makes so many ladies moist that he learned to mack a bitch the first day his voice dropped. Then again if his voice DID drop he must have been singing soprano in the pimp school choir beforehand, because even as a full grown mack he’s a couple octaves above the average – which may be why he and DJ Quik have hit it off so well over the years. Don’t mistake me as there’s nothing feminine about Free’s voice or his mack game, but vocally you won’t mistake him for Chuck D or Xzibit.

In most publically portrayed pimping parables the smoothest, most stylish pimp with the greatest stable of hoes tends to be higher pitched anyway. In Suga Free’s pimping the key to success to soothe your flock of hoes with dulcet tones only to ultimately remind them they come a distant fourth behind money, wheels and clothes. Yes it’s misogynistic – what do you want me to say? Pimping involves exploiting and degrading women for profit. This is not the time and place to discuss the morality of the hoe stroll. For me the exploits of Too $hort and Suga Free have always been a kernel of truth exaggerated to the highest degree for entertainment purposes, which has been true of almost every entertainer in every genre. Nobody thrills to the exploits of Everyday Joe, hitting on a girl at the bar trying to get her number, only to be shot down quicker than zombies in an arcade game. Suga Free’s appeal is that he spits pulp fiction. True or not his stories are verbal novels that unfold like a movie in your mind’s eye. Take “Married to My Cadillac” for example:

“I’m speaking from the seaweed of my soul
Yeah this is like an airplane to me, up up up and away to the hoe stroll
And did I mention… oh that it’s totally superb
When her Vogue cuts the curb and I can feel her exquisite suspension
I compliment her on how she really handles the road
She compliments me by tilting the wheel for me and engaging her cruise control
Chevron with techron hmm, that day I’ll never forget
It was pump six, Tuesday evning, I think the Suns were playing the Knicks
There was no skeletons in her closets, she confirmed to me
that she adores 91 octane premium gasoline with no deposits”

The attention to detail in Suga Free’s offbeat verbals is nothing less than cinematic, but he’s just as often the comedian as he is the director. With a pimpish flair Suga Free spits the most outrageous punchlines and snaps, saying things that would sound cornball or clumsy if any other rapper attempted to do the same. Once you’ve experienced his sense of timing and the charmingly ridiculous lines he seems to effortlessly throw away in songs like “The Game Don’t Wait” conversion to a Suga Free fan is even easier than how Free converts a girl to take off her drawers for money. See what I mean? Clumsy and awkward. When Suga Free turns it out though it’s all style:

“See I can go to when we started out, yah
Kept her attention let her run her mouth
She got to tellin me everything in a single breath
Oh yes I listened like a counselor at my very best
I kept the sex away cause that’ll ruin my whole damn thing
Now I don’t expect you to understand the way I run my game
Been with her a year and I ain’t touched her yet
Cause I see more in her than naked, man that’s simple respect
Now I don’t mind if you sleepin with her later
Just don’t forget to bring her back home to me when you pay her
Now can you tell me where your woman at? Oh she at work
Gettin sexually harassed perhaps, you know your girl a flirt
Man if you only knew how many lies she told you a week
You trust her too much, and ready to cut your wrists because of new love
I can laugh so hard at some of the things men do
Put all his eggs in one basket, he in love with you
He said that you belong to him and only him no other man
Cause it’ll hurt him ’til he’s suicidal, typical man
Don’t set your feelings and your world around a girl like that
Cause she can give a FUCK less about what you feel Jack!
See I don’t go through that I never will as long as I live
We sho’ relate together, confident, a hoe and her pimp
A hoe and her pimp… how ’bout that”

The names on the production credits may not be immediately familiar to readers, but rest assured they do a fine job on “Smell My Finger.” Co-T provides perfectly mellow West coast funk on tracks like the aforementioned “Game Don’t Wait” as well as “Maybe For Me, Not For You” and the extra smooth high speed “I Need My Doe.” Finguz is no less apt at providing G-Funk on songs like “I Wanna Be Like You” and the piano and bass laced Dr. Dre-esque “Keep Up the Bad Work.” Casino, Daytone, and Khrys put in work too. The bottom line is that the production is just as good as any other album Suga Free has done, including those where he worked closely with DJ Quik, and one of the reasons a Suga Free album is always worth waiting for is he won’t spit over weak shit. If you listen to “Smell My Finger” you’ll have dozens of “I can’t believe he said that shit” rewind moments that you’ll remember for days, such as telling a hoe she “needs to go to the hospital to get a personality transplant.” Free pulls off what other rappers can’t and SHOULDN’T and that’s why I’ll always be a fan until he falls the fuck off. Go on and smell his finger.

Suga Free :: Smell My Finger
8Overall Score