Album: Ev’rbody Know Me
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Its a testament to their tenacity that the likeable Youngbloodz duo of Sean Paul and J-Bo have managed to maintain a high profile in a Hiphop world increasingly awash with Southern artists who have neither paid enough dues or have enough talent to truly justify their success, yet because of being in the right place at the right time, seem to have, for want of a better phrase, blown the fuck up. Plagued with label headaches since their “Against The Grain” debut in 1999, the ‘bloodz have battled against company mergers that have stranded them in no-man’s land, and cease and desist letters from TVT due to that label’s ongoing financial row with Lil Jon, to finally bring “Ev’rybody Know Me” to the racks.
Its been a long time coming. Buoyed by the enormous success of the Lil Jon-produced anthem, ‘Damn’ in 2003, their sophomore album “Drankin’ Patnaz” seemed destined for success on the back of this massive hit single, but as their label at the time (BMG) was absorbed by Sony, the promo push for the Youngbloodz abruptly stopped. After ‘Lean Low’ quietly faded from view, nothing more was worked into rotation, and it seemed a much underrated album (despite selling over 700K) would go overlooked by many.
Fast forward to 2005, and after a few hiccups at their new home at Jive, their 3rd album finally sees the light of day, with heavy artillery production from Lil Jon, Mr Collipark, Jazze Pha and Scott Storch amongst others.
Providing soundscapes for a variety of artists throughout the year, its Storch, arguably the most versatile producer of 2005, who gets things off and running on ‘Chop Chop’, laying down a bass-heavy beat with hints of brass throughout for Sean Paul and J-Bo to get things crackin’. Its a mere taster of things to come though… as ‘Presidential’ kicks through the speakers, its plain that Lil Jon has done his best to take the best ideas from the ‘Damn’ sessions, and bring them into 2005 with a twist – its the same synths, the same thump… but somehow, again, he’s managed to keep it fresh. Unfortunately, his vocal appearances on the track gruffly hyping up the ‘bloodz, were removed under threat of legal action from Jon’s label TVT – a scene that due to his beef with the label sadly promises to resurface again on other tracks in the near future until the issue is resolved. Like its predecessor ‘Damn’, ‘Presidential’ is another massive southern anthem, with a memorable sing-a-long hook and a spine-vibrating bounce throughout. (The remix tacked on at the end of the album is more of the same, although the inclusive of the irritating Akon doesn’t allow this to make as much of a mark as the original.)
G-Unit’s Young Buck teams up with the duo on ‘Datz Me’ to prove again that when he’s away from the influence of 50 and co, and actually rocking over beats that suit him and his flow, that he is an impressive rhymer. Its Sean Paul though who shines here the most though with his laidback drawl sliding easily over Sanchez Holmes heavy track.
‘Stay fresh, white tee, Sean cruise, datz me,
In the chevy grippin’ grain, drippin’ paint, datz me,
In the club, fight drunk, stay crunk, datz me,
Represent the A-Town best believe datz me.”
Rakim it ain’t. But who gives a shit? Rakim hasn’t been relevant for years – this is 2005 bitches.
‘Excuse Me Shawty’ sees Sean, Bo and Lil Scrappy
ominously threaten politely ask all the females in the vicinity to step back and give them some elbow room; while the title track sees the Youngbloodz rework a familiar Geto Boys line into a catchy hook over Lil Jon-esque synth work from Jamil Debardlabon. Elsewhere, the energetic ‘Haterproof’, the sultry ‘Spending Some Change’, and the rugged ‘Grown Man’ all impress.
Its the work of three super producers that really stands out though…
On the Jazze Pha-produced ‘Play Ur Position’ squeaky effects and ultra-low frequency bass unite with devastating effect. Pha’s animated vocals all over the hook and intro are catchily irritating as the YBz ask Shorty if she wants to ride with em. Mannie Fresh’s work on ‘What Tha Biz’ shows why his departure from Cash Money is a massive blow for that label – here his trademark drum patterns and patented NO bounce set the scene for him and the ‘bloodz to discuss how big their hood rep is, how many cars they drive, and how much alcohol they pour down their necks etc etc… its all materialistically entertaining. Rounding off the trio of winners, Mr Collipark’s continual reworking of ‘Wait’ still garners a favorable outcome on the T-Boz featuring ‘Its Good’ – the minimal progamming will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the Ying Yang original. This WILL blow up radios in the new year… remember who told you.
Extremely low on misfires and filler, “Ev’rybody Know Me” is EASILY one of the most impressive albums of 2005, and in a year where in reality there hasn’t been an awful lot to write home about, it only makes the quality on this album stand out all the more. Hopefully, this album doesn’t get lost amongst the mainstream’s rush to jump on the Houston bandwagon, and attains the success the YBz deserve.