73 — [Rating Scale]
Posthumous hip-hop albums are tricky. On the one hand, if there is unreleased material of a loved artist, fans will want to hear it. On the other hand, they are never good. The best examples are the slew of 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. albums released after their death; cobbled together affairs that brought none of the original qualities that made each rapper great. This album, although definitely flawed, works. The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones is a good record, mostly due to the magnetic personality of Pimp C that shines through in every one of his verses and choruses.
The album opens with a track as close to Pimp C’s signature sound as you can get. Production is syrupy and smooth, and Pimp C is refreshingly irreverent and ridiculous. Singing instead of rapping, he gives the kind of narrative that everyone’s been missing from him. Lyrical standouts include “Ima fuck you baby, cause I gots to have it/ Ima fuck you baby, cause I gots to grab it.” Classic Pimp C.
There are certain things here that really give it away that this album is a posthumous release. The first is the complete lack of Pimp C production. Most people associate Pimp with his over the top boasts, insults and general shit-talking. They leave out the simple fact he was a top-notch producer, pioneering a lot of the swang music trends coming out of Texas throughout his career. It seems although there were enough verses to fill an album, Pimp didn’t leave us with any of his iconic instrumentals. The guest list of producers, however, put together a solid effort. Most of the beats would not be out of place on a UGK record, and Pimp sounds comfortable on nearly all of them.
The features on the album are another indicator this record was put together after Pimp C’s death. Young Jeezy was a rapper he was not always on the best of terms with. I remember a XXL article where Pimp C accused Jeezy of lying about how much cocaine he sold before becoming a rapper and the ensuing spat that occurred. Yet here Jeezy is, on Pimp’s final album. Another feature that feels more like a draw for a single than something Pimp C would have commissioned is Drake. Drake, essentially, is the Anti-Pimp C of hip-hop today. That is not to say he is untalented or he and Pimp C were on bad terms, it is just what each of them represent. Drake is suave, sophisticated and appeals to almost anyone, while Pimp C was raw, unapologetic and became a legend in his own niche. The collaboration looks strange on paper, and sounds contrived in its recorded form.
Despite the occasionally awkward guest verses and production, the album remains all about Pimp C. Women, drugs and cars make up the majority of the subject matter here, and because it is Pimp C it sounds innovative, new and powerful. He provides the kind of verses that gained him legendary status, and it is great to hear his unique style once again.
THE NAKED SOUL OF SWEET JONES READER RATING