In what seems to be one of the newest trends currently seen in the Hip-Hop/Rap industry, artists are continuing installments in their albums series. From Jay-Z (The Blueprint 3) to Raekwon (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II) to C-N-N (The War Report 2: Report The War) it has been seen across the entire spectrum. Now Port Arthur native Bun B can be added to that list with the latest installment in his Trill titled album series Trill O.G., which rightly so serves as Bun’s third official solo album. Those unfamiliar with Bun’s legendary history in the rap game can take a refresher course in the form of six UGK albums, numerous features that include Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin'”, Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin’ On Some Syrup”, T.I.’s “Front Back”, Beyonce’s “Check On It”, Webbie’s “Give Me That”, and promotional mixtape No Mixtape. Once you’re caught up to speed, join us as we detail Trill O.G. in determining where it stands in the Trill-ogy of the Trill O.G. (you see what I did there…)
Featuring J. Prince; Produced by Steve Below
Things slowly start off with a short monologue by Rap-A-Lot Records founder J. Prince, who speaks about the newest member of the Rap-A-Lot family in Drake (Discovered by J’s son Jae Prince) and along with the late Chad “Pimp C” Butler gives this album his blessing. From there we get hit with driving organs and hard packed drums provided by Steve Below who handles a majority of the album’s production. Bun doesn’t waste any time letting new listeners know or reminding loyal fans just who’s been running the South for years now. Representing H-Town and the entire South is exactly what you hear in this opening track in which Bun solidifies his legendary status… just ask Tip, Hova, Diddy, Yeezy or Jeezy to name a few.
Featuring T-Pain; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
The album’s second single comes as a return of sorts for T-Pain who has noticeably been off the scene as of late compared to years past. Regardless, with T-Pain comes Auto-Tune and it’s in full effect over some less than spectacular production from the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League who have recently been providing superb productions (i.e. “Maybach Music III”, “Aston Martin Music”). Following a impressive opening track, this ends up being somewhat of a letdown overall as hear some basic rhymes from Bun along with a typical chorus from T-Pain, which is pretty much passé at this point. It’s easy to understand why as song like this was picked as a single for the album, but in 2010 it arrives a year or two outdated from when a T-Pain featured song guaranteed a hit.
3. Just Like That
Featuring Young Jeezy; Produced by Drumma Boy
If you’re familiar with the haunting siren at the song’s start then you’ve heard your fair share of “Lose My Mind”. In similar fashion Drumma Boy returns behind the boards to give Bun his “summertime top down” song that will fit right along with the likes of “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)” and “Hard In The Paint” on your playlist. What you expect with this song is exactly what you get in a catch chorus from Young Jeezy and top notch rhymes from Bun. Even though Bun fits comfortably on the song, it’s Jeezy who really sounds at home over Drumma’s production with his verse making it sound like it would have been better suited for TM 103 instead. Regardless, Bun and his label knew what they had on their hands with this track smartly making it the album’s third single.
4. Put It Down
Featuring Drake; Produced by Boi-1da
Slowing the pace down a bit, Bun recruits Drake and the industry’s new go-to producer Boi-1da for another Southern influenced track that’s sure to catch listeners’ attention from the feature alone. In traditional Southern fashion, Boi-1da utilizes some slow drawing organs as the backbone of this beat as Bun speak about the people and places he puts on for with his music while Drizzy in usual metaphorical fashion details his success (“Drizzy Hendrix, I’m just backstage gettin’ stoned/Thank Me Later man, a million copies shipped and gone”) and pays homage to the late Pimp C (“Round, I got a hundred girls in each phone/Drizzy Drake mayne, young Sweet Jones”).
5. Right Now
Featuring Pimp C, 2Pac & Trey Songz; Produced by Steve Below
This was probably the album’s most anticipated track having posthumous features from both Pimp C and 2Pac. Over some lively production provided by Steve Below, Pimp C delivers a quality verse as only he can as well as 2Pac who takes time out to address his multiple sex escapades. Not be overlooked Bun continues the talk with a verse about his own freaky tales as Trey Songz provides a suitable chorus with intent to catch the ladies’ attention. Looking beyond the inclusion of the two deceased artists in Pimp C and 2Pac, the song comes off good but sounds a bit forced and commercial with the purpose of attracting radio play (which from the content would never happen). It also would have been nice if this was the first time we heard 2Pac’s verse, which was also heard on “International” on Pac’s Life but luckily this song trumps that one in mostly every way.
6. That’s A Song (Skit)
Featuring Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis; Produced by Steve Below
If you can’t recognize from the voice or name, Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis is voiced by comedian Cedric The Entertainer. I’m assuming for the purpose of humor this skit was included, but there’s just none to be found. Be clear isn’t “Threat” Cedric from The Black Album and this should be skipped.
7. Countin’ Money
Featuring Yo Gotti & Gucci Mane; Produced by DJ B-Do
The first single for the album came in the form of Bun B teaming up with Yo Gotti and Gucci Mane for a song about every rapper’s favorite subject matter. DJ B-Do handles the production on this track with a mainly generic sounding Southern beat filled with orchestra hits, 808 kicks, pitch-varied snare rolls, and 1/16th hi-hats (yeah that’s the formula right there). With his verse Bun outshines both featured rappers along with the beat as he speaks about money always being on the mind and the various things it’s spent on. While Gotti isn’t completely horrible with his verse Gucci is, contributing a verse that should have gave way to another verse from Bun instead. As a featured guest Yo Gotti would have been enough for this song but the Gucci inclusion is obvious for the weight of his name alone right now. Not really too much that makes this track standout as it sounds more like a mixtape cut than an album track.
Featuring Twista & Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis; Produced by Big E
Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis joins us again but lucky its within an actual song this time instead of just dialogue like the previous skit. Over a progressing beat by Big E, Bun delivers two solid verses showcasing his lyrical ability and flow but Twista shines like a star on this track. With production style that suitably fits Twista’s rapid delivery and flow better than Bun’s, he locks down the track with sixteen bars. Nothing more, nothing less, this track is just for lyrical showcase, and Bun B along with Twista do a nice job of that (Bluesman Ceddy could have been left out).
9. Lights, Camera, Action
Produced by Steve Below
After eight tracks this is the first solo of Bun with Steve Below back behind the boards. Over triumphant fanfare Bun details the experience of a Bun B performance show giving you a play-by-play of everything included from the backstage festivities leading to the stage. Nothing too spectacular with this track, but it’s cool hearing things first-person from Bun’s perspective. This is a song that I could see being accompanied by a promotional video shot in first-person detailing the aspects of the lyrics.
10. I Get Down 4 Mine
Produced by Steve Below
Continuing over from the previous track Bun brings forth a more aggressive approach with a verse that equally matches the intensity of the beat produced by Steve Below. Backed by a combination of smacking drums, sinister strings, and rough synthesizers, Bun lets his verses do the talking when it comes to what he represents and what he stands for. If you still had your doubts about Bun’s skill as a rapper until this point this song will rightfully erase those doubts.
11. Snow Money
Produced by DJ Khalil
If you had told me that the same guy that produced songs like “Kinda Like A Big Deal” (Clipse), “Fear” (Drake), and “Won’t Back Down” (Eminem) is who provided the production on this track I probably would never believe another word out of your mouth. But sure enough DJ Khalil turns out to be the producer of this track, which becomes disappointing considering the production’s generic value. Similar to the production previously heard on “Countin’ Money”, this beat suffers from its generic Southern production elements and causes the song to come off boring awhile into it. The similarities don’t end there as this track yet again deals with every rapper’s favorite subject matter, but this time in connection with every rapper’s favorite white girl (insert name here). Considering Yo Gotti’s status as the self-proclaimed “Pyrex King” and everything involving cocaine, it would have made more sense to see him featured on this track than “Countin’ Money”. Bun’s uninspired rhymes + Cliché subject matter + Subpar production makes this an average track at best.
12. Ridin’ Slow
Featuring Slim Thug & Play-N-Skillz; Produced by Play-N-Skillz
In traditional H-Town fashion, Bun slllooooowwwwwss things all the way down with fellow Houston rapper Slim Thug over some laid-back production from Play-N-Skillz who give you the closest thing to Chopped & Screwed you’ll hear on the album. It’s no “Drive Slow” but Bun and Slim pay respect to the H-Town tradition of candy-paint, wood grain, and systems in the trunk. Play-N-Skillz provide a chorus that’s more than suitable for the feel and pace of the song, resulting in a song that will be ultimately enjoyed by Houston and Texas natives as well as those with the rides to match.
13. Let Em Know
Produced by DJ Premier
Let’s be clear from the jump… This Is The Best Track On The Album. Now I could probably leave it at that and move on to the next, but I’ll explain why this song stands on top of any other track heard on this album. Whether is DJ Premier’s 90’s reminiscent production including a well crafted chorus with pristine scratches or Bun’s clearly focused rhymes:
“Mastered the flow, the gun and the hand game
Now I’m resurrecting a real nigga campaign”
“When I get to gladiatin’ on haters like Leonidas
Niggas just gon’ have to admit that he the tightest”
“And who can fuck with us, better bring your mic game
Mike Jordan, Mike Tyson, Big Mike mayne”
This track serves as a direct comparison to the more modern sound heard on other tracks throughout the album. Those listeners labeled “Hip-Hop Heads” will enjoy this track for all that if offers, which happens to be a more than welcomed addition. Finally being able to hear two legendary Texas figures on a track is something that will remain special about Trill O.G.
14. Listen (Skit)
Featuring Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis; Produced by Steve Below
Yeah we’ve been through this once already back with “That’s A Song (Skit)” and this time around it’s still unnecessary. Luckily it’s the last time we have to hear Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis and his mindless rambling, just skip this one too.
15. All A Dream
Featuring LeToya; Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League return for one final contribution to this album and luckily this time around it’s much better than their first offering on “Trillionaire”. They provide Bun B with some inspirational production as he tackles the subject matter, built off the phrase made famous by The Notorious B.I.G., of his journey to reach the current point in his career backed by the fitting vocals of LeToya who provides the chorus and backing vocals. This track serves as motivation to aspiring rappers of the next generation who can look to Bun’s career as a guide for their own paths.
16. It’s Been A Pleasure
Featuring Drake; Produced by Boi-1da
The origins of this track can be traced back to its early stages as a solo joint that featured a verse and chorus by Drake to scenes of it being recording on Drake’s Better Than Good Enough documentary. But obviously Bun B caught ear of the track and decided to make it his, and rightfully so as he elevates the track as a result. Backed by a slow building beat by Boi-1da and effective chorus from Drake, Bun utilizes the final track to celebrate his years in the game detailing both the ups and downs involved within.
Most recently Trill O.G. made headlines in being the latest album since Lil Kim’s The Naked Truth to receive The Source’s five-mic album rating. While Trill O.G. is a strong album in terms of cohesiveness, it’s no classic. I don’t say that to slight Bun B as an artist in any way because recently he has been at his strongest lyrically evident on tracks like “Let Em Know” and “I Get Down For Mine”. But when you have a list that includes albums likeIllmatic, The Low End Theory, and Straight Outta Compton, Trill O.G. shouldn’t even be a consideration. As of right now Trill O.G. wouldn’t even be listed as the Best Rap Album of 2010, a spot more suited for How I Got Over (The Roots) or Distant Relatives (Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley). If anything Trill O.G. can be listed as the best album in the series, slightly edging Trill and II Trill for the crown. While each album holds it’s memorable cuts as Trill had “Get Throwed” and “Draped Up” while II Trill had “You’re Everything”, Trill O.G. contains more to be remembered years later. Even though the track listing is feature heavy and the guest appearances properly utilized throughout, it would have been nice to hear a few more solo tracks from Bun. Unlike Trill and II Trill where if you weren’t an avid listener of Southern rap you were unlikely to have checked out the album outside of the singles, Trill O.G. is broad enough to attract new listeners while maintaining loyal fans. If this happens to be the final chapter in the Trill series then Bun B has provided a fitting ending to a lasting legacy.
nappyPicks: “Let Em Know”, “Put It Down”, “It’s Been A Pleasure”, “All A Dream”, “Just Like That”, “Chuuch!!!”, “Right Now”, “I Get Down For Mine”, “SpeakEasy”