Boss Hogg Outlawz :: Back By Blockular Demand: Serve & Collect II :: Koch Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

The Boss Hogg Outlawz have long been a staple in the Texas underground scene. To be honest, their popularity has more to do with Slim Thug than any of the other members. After leaving Swishahouse you could only find Slim Thug on BHO mixtapes and the group became synonymous with him. Even after signing a national deal with Koch, the group still wasn't able to shake the association as their albums are billed as "Slim Thug presents." This time around Slim Thug's shadow is even more imposing since despite having released an album on Interscope, this CD is likely the only place to find fresh Slim Thug material. With his label status and solo career in limbo, Slim Thug has dedicated all his energy to the BHO. He added a few more members to the group and even splurged on a semi-big name guest feature as Ray J makes an appearance on the lead single.

The formula is here for another successful BHO album. The lead single was officially "Keep it Playa," but the street single has been more popular as was the case with "Ride on 4s" on the last album. This time the mixtape burner is in the form of "No Ceiling" and features J-Dawg handling the hook and dropping a verse:

"Got me feeling on top of the world, like Tony homie
Kids good, fam good, ain't nobody hungry
Bills paid, momma's straight, said she's proud of me
I'm proud of me too, all the shit I've been through
Riding good, understood, let's get back to working wood
Let's get back to dropping tops, OK we in the parking lot
The club crunk, line long, everyone waiting to get in
That's when I pulled up, trunk knocking, eight tens"

J-Dawg is the Texas version of Plies as he's much more about his deep southern drawl and keeping it real than any lyrical ability. Slim Thug must see the potential mainstream appeal of J-Dawg as he's featured prominently on his album and even got a solo BHO mixtape before some of the longer tenured members. Personally, I wasn't sold on the man, but I'm willing to see how it plays out. The other members of the BHO get their time to shine, but only a few manage to stand out. Chris Ward has been around for a while, bouncing between Big Pokey's click years ago to the BHO. His game is focused on more punchline heavy verses. Slim Thug's protégé is Killa Kyleon whose style is a mix of a punchline rapper and southern street rapper. He has the swagger and intensity of Bun B, but his flow and delivery isn't nearly as refined as the Port Arthur legend. Basically, the album provides enough variety to give most rap fans something they like. Slim Thug is still the most talented out of the lot, but the crew does make some trunk worthy tracks. "Lookin' Clean" is just as hard as "No Ceiling" and appropriate for riding. "Living Without" changes things up with a soulful beat and a strong Slim Thug verse and hook – it is reflective reality rap at its best.

The only real complaints one can throw at the album is two weak tracks and a lack variety. The lack of variety comes from the fact that too many times are the Outlawz content with recycling an old line, slowing it down a little, and then using it as a hook for a song. It's a plague that's hit Texas rap full force since people started paying tribute to Fat Pat and other fallen rap stars using the method. For one or two songs it's fine, but past that it gets repetitive. The weak songs come in the form of "Rap Reality Show" and "Keep it 1000" where the Boss Hogg Outlawz take their thuggery so far it enters the realm of buffoonery. "Rap Reality Show" finds Killa Kyleon calling out all the fake thugs in the rap game as he proclaims his realness. Outside of being unoriginal, the song ends with a radio interview as some peppy female DJ interviews Killa about how fake the game is – really? When did peppy girls and calling people out on the radio become gangsta? "Keep it 1000" took keeping it real to the extreme as apparently the BHO are 10 times realer than those who keep it 100.

Outside of two weak tracks, this is another solid outing for the BHO. The beats are on point throughout, giving you that deep, trunk rattling Texas funk you'd expect. Slim Thug is on top of his game as always and the rest of the BHO show some promise. As was the case with the last album, I assume this will grow on me with time, especially after a few plays in the car. It's about time Slim Thug started focusing on solo albums for the BHO since these projects really do little to promote them outside of die-hard fans. Casual fans will peep for the production and Slim Thug appearances. With tempered expectations this is actually a good album (but once again would have been better at the beginning of the summer), but this is no Slim Thug solo substitute.

Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10

Originally posted: September 9, 2008