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I’ve always felt like much of the criticism thrown at southern hip hop for the entire genre’s purported downfall to be a bit extreme. Mainstream hip hop’s obsession with materialism and self-absorption started with Puffy in New York, not in Atlanta, New Orleans, or Houston. There’s a long-standing prejudice against the southern drawl in the world of hip hop.

Sure, southern rap typically takes a more laid back approach, and is often party orientated, but I think groups like UGK and Outkast and rappers like Scarface, Devin the Dude, and Cee-Lo highlight that not every southern emcee shares the same accent, let alone the same subject matter.

But of course, it’s hard to make that point when the most popular songs from the south now deal with candy and dances named after superheroes.

Make no mistake: I enjoy both. “Laffy Taffy” is to the south what “This Is Why I’m Hot” is to the north: a catchy beat-driven song with forgettable lyrics that you’re not paying much attention to anyway because you’re listening to it in the club.

And if “Chicken Little Soup” is any indication, even New York can’t shake the south’s broader appeal – even making attempts to duplicate it.

Currently there’s no one harder to shake than 17-year-old Atlanta native behind the ever popular and infectious “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” and superman dance craze, Soulja Boy.

Too bad his album, negates every point I just tried to make in saving the south’s image, and gives enough material to southern bashers to last another decade.

Soulja Boy swears he’s a lot smarter than most people assume him to be, and assures audiences there’s a twist to every song on the album – highlighting his versatility.

He might be more intelligent than I pegged him to be, but his album isn’t. On the track, “Sidekick,” Soulja Boy says, “Man, I can’t believe that I’m rapping about a phone, but what you won’t believe is I wrote this song.” I’m a believer.

By track six, you will have learned at least three new dances. Soon after you come across two songs dedicated to ass — “Donk” and “Booty Meat.” The latter is as hysterical as it is ridiculous.

Also included in this versatile album of dance records, familiar beats, and ass-appreciating anthems is the ubiquitous ‘love song’ made ‘for the ladies’ – the album’s second single, “Soulja Girl.” If you’ve heard the other shallow love songs by rappers who ill-advisedly sing alongside the token R&B singer doing the hook, you’ve heard this one already.

Though you may feel like you’re losing brain cells while listening, there are some songs that are at least catchy enough to bob your head to. One of them is “Bapes,” dedicated to the popular clothing line.

Then there is “Pass It To Arab,” where the beat is catchy enough to the point you’ll forget the song is more or less a four minute loop after you start to play closer attention to the lyrics.

What exactly prompts Soulja Boy to believe he’s more intelligent that people give him credit for with an album like this? It’s probably the fact that he recorded the majority of it on his personal computer. How many rappers can say they secured the number one record and ringtone in the country from a record created on their computer?

How many can say their popularity stems not from a carefully planned marketing plan from a major label, but from word-of-mouth campaigns catered to myspace and Youtube users?

On the album’s final track, Soulja Boys boldly raps, “Don’t get mad ‘cause the kids like me.” While I can be turned off at this album’s contribution to the blame the South mantra, I can’t get mad at the fact that the kids put him where he is. With a popular dance, song, television show in development, his battle for fame seems to be achieved. My personal one to clear the south’s name continues on.

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