You should never trust Wikipedia implicitly (cultivate a healthy sense of skepticism) but for the sake of argument let’s say the OJ Da Juiceman discography is accurate. As such OJ has released two studio albums that were professionally recorded, physically pressed by a record label, and sent to stores for retail purchase. The same page also says OJ has thirty-eight mixtapes. That means in a career spanning 15+ years, only 5% of OJ’s music has been distributed commercially. 2 out of 40. Since there’s absolutely no chance I’m reviewing forty OJ Da Juiceman albums, I’d rather look at one of the 5% that was deemed worthy — his debut CD “Tha Otha Side of the Trap.”
The whole reason OJ has a career appears to be that he and Gucci Mane grew up in the same apartment building together. It should come as no surprise that he was signed (past tense) to Gucci’s vanity label or that Gucci appears multiple times throughout the album. The first single “Make the Trap Say Aye” owes its success to his cameo. It reached #8 on the Billboard Rap Singles in 2008, and to date remains the only OJ Da Juiceman single to chart. I wish I could say the song is a winner, but even as a fan of Zaytoven’s production, I can’t rate this as one of his better tracks. OJ’s high pitched voice doesn’t help. The chorus is like the sound of your brakes screaming in the rain, and his bars are every trope of trapping served up in one pill.
“LeBron James wrist when I’m fucking with that caper
Hit the trap, stay down, watch the paper rake up
Booming out the house in J’s asking for a wakeup
Half a brick, whole brick, got me buying Jacobs”
I’ve been hard on Gucci Mane at times over the years, but owing either to lowered standards in the last decade or how irritating his cohort here, Radric Davis is the only redeeming part of the song. I honestly think Zay knew how worthless it was to put in his best effort on songs like “I Be Trappin” because the beat sounds low effort. It’s like taking the horns from Rocky and doing a poor imitation of them instead of sampling it and having to pay the clearance. Would you pay for it with lyrics like “Moving units, dog, that’s an everyday hobby/Twenty-thousand dollars for the Juice to go shopping”? I wouldn’t
The problem is that great beats can redeem inane lyrics. Some of the dumbest rap songs of all time are worth playing at high volume in a residential district just because the bass hits hard and the hook is easy to repeat. “Good Night” featuring Gucci Mane comes close to capturing this magic. The repeated piano stab is ear pleasing and once again Radric Davis saves OJ by keeping him from being the sole focus of the song. I can’t endorse needing some crushed ice for your lean and your Sprite, but it’s the kind of ear worm that people will repeat. Why wasn’t this released as a single?
Instead we got treated to mediocre singles like “I’m Gettin Money” that sound like an incredibly bad imitation of Young Jeezy. I’m not joking. He even says “ay” repeatedly the same way that Jeezy does. This isn’t a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery — this is straight up swagger jacking a better rapper and hoping his fans might mistake one man for the other. They won’t.
I tried like hell to give OJ Da Juiceman the benefit of the doubt, but there’s a good reason only 5% of his catalogue made it to retail. I don’t really care about his “tractor trailer money“ or his “airplane money” and I don’t imagine many listeners did. His topics are as redundant as his rhymes — they’re all about how much weight he can move and how much money he makes/spends. If Walter White had drip he’d be OJ Da Juiceman, but White knew better than to flash his cash everywhere. OJ scrapes the bottom rung of the rap ladder on “Tha Otha Side of the Trap.” No matter how inane his raps are, I can’t say he doesn’t deliver them on time, clearly enough to be heard and understood. The fundamentals are there, but nothing he has to say makes me care.