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Mouths of the South


Raise up your crunk juice 'cause it's time to get dirty...South that is. Here's a list of some of hip-hop's most admired Southern players and funky rhyme sayers.


March 15, 2005

Southern rap has definitely come a long way, and it's even written its own exciting chapter in hip-hop history. Today, the South has plenty to be crunked about thanks to folks like the 2 Live Crew, Master P, Mannie Fresh, Lil' Jon, and others who have paved the way in advancing the South's signature bass-driven sound into what it is now. Below are 10 of the quickly growing number of artists who bring into their music a little Southern hospitality.

Lil' Flip

Lil' Flip has never really done much to grasp anyone's full attention, yet he's one of those Southern rappers claiming he's "the king of this and the king of that." He actually declares himself a "freestyle king," although I have yet to hear him duke it out with any of the greats that I know. I should at least thank him for introducing us to that R&B beauty Lea, who was featured in his latest hit, "Sunshine." (It's too bad her debut album, Girls Keep Talkin', failed to drop as expected on Valentine's Day.) To be honest, I'm only including Flip because I don't want any of his fans to get mad! Surely Flip can't be the best the South has to offer. Apparently, though, he is well respected for holding down Texas the Dirty South way.

David Banner

He's not quite the Incredible Hulk one usually associates with the name, but hip-hop's David Banner virtually placed Mississippi on the map single-handedly. Most recognized for his best single to date, "Like a Pimp," his talents as both a rapper and a producer are still undervalued by many hip-hop listeners. It still didn't stop Banner from releasing two albums in one year (The Mississippi Album and MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water) and producing tracks for the likes of Lil' Flip, Chingy, Trick Daddy, Nelly, and Twista, among others. Ever notice how almost every album from the South now has a "Chopped & Screwed" version? Well, although it's been an underground trend in the South for years, Banner's Mississippi LP was the nation's first taste of that particular style of recording. Now there's some trivia for you.

Lil' Wayne

 At a mere 11 years old, Lil' Wayne was initially drafted into the Cash Money army as a member of the Hot Boys, alongside Turk, Juvenile, and B.G. Now a young man, Wayne has found major success as a solo artist (although his cameo verse in Destiny's Child's "Soldier" offers some of the worst lyrics heard on a hit record), as well as a label exec for his Young Money imprint. It can't be denied, however, that he's matured on every album he drops. And despite almost signing with Island Def Jam earlier this year, Wayne has decided to stick with his family and is about to release his fifth solo album, The Carter II, sooner than you might expect.

Young Buck

 It's true. Young Buck is the better lyricist in G-Unit. It just so happens he's from Nashville, Tennessee. I wouldn't consider myself a Buck fan, but Straight Outta Cashville is 10 times better than Lloyd Bank's Hunger for More, and it's five times better than 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'. The quality of production heard in Cashville was long overdue for Young Buck, especially since his verbal talent spent valuable time warming the benches of the Cash Money roster back in the early days. I guess joining G-Unit was the best career move he's made so far, despite all the controversy that's associated with it. (But he's no angel, anyway.) Fiddy better make sure he brushes up on his own rhyming before he gets overthrown by one of his own wingmen. Quick! Someone start a rumor!

T.I.

To me, T.I. being labeled "the Jay-Z of the South" doesn't go beyond being a former drug slinger-turned-rap star. After about four months in stores, however, T.I.'s latest LP, Urban Legend, managed to reach platinum status with the help of such tracks as "Bring 'Em Out" and "U Don't Know Me." I guess the self-proclaimed "King of the South" is that much respected, despite his run-ins with the law and his silly beefs within the industry. Then again, isn't that the current image to uphold in hip-hop? This week, T.I. will kick off his Grand Hustle tour to further promote Urban Legend. And watch out ladies! Nelly will be on deck to support the cause!

Trick Daddy

 Remember Luke's (2 Live Crew) 1996 booty-bass track "Scarred?" Well, that was the first time Trick Daddy appeared on the rap scene, and he's kept Miami in the game every since. He reminds me of a country version of Ol' Dirty Bastard. There are no fake gimmicks; he's just pure ghetto every stretch of the way. I'd have to say he's one of my preferred Southern rappers simply because of that...and he also makes good, entertaining music to bob your head to (or shake your rump to, if that's what you're into). One of my favorite tracks from Trick is "In Da Wind," featuring Cee-Lo. It's perfect for a good summertime Slip 'n Slide (like his label) session in the park. And it's in rare form that I admit to liking a Lil' Jon creation, but "Let's Go," from his latest album Thug Matrimony: Married to the Streets, always seems to bring the crunk out of me with its sample from Ozzy Osbourne's classic headbanger, "Crazy Train." Keepin' it crunk, Miami-bassed, or politically charged, this thug can deliver music any which way possible.

Trillville

Atlanta's own Trillville wishes to be known as the "Gods of Crunk," and I say more power to them. Discovered by Lil' Jon, the trio has long been representing crunk--from toe to their flow--ever since attending high school in the late '90s. Much as how the late Mac Dre, from the Bay Area, enjoyed keeping things "treal" (a slang term basically combining the words "truth" and "real"), Trillville does the same...only with a Southern vibe. The group has been very successful since the release of The King of Crunk & BME Recordings Present: Trillville, which features label mate Lil' Scrappy. The album has been nesting in Billboard's Top 100 Hip-Hop/R&B albums for more than 50 consecutive weeks! Come vibe with the rhythmic bed squeaks in the "Some Cut" video found on the artist page. It'll definitely get you swaying from side to side. After watching it, give the video a quick rating based on what you think it deserves. (I gave it four stars.)

Geto Boys

They'll always be remembered for their classic 1992 hit "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," but the Geto Boys were extremely influential in putting Houston, Texas, on the rap map and in the spreading of Southern gangsta rap in general. Although each has declared creative differences from the others, and although each has solo projects under his own name, Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill recently managed to reform (thanks to Willie D's efforts) to give it another run for the fans with the release of The Foundation earlier this year, which comes nine long years after their last collective effort, The Resurrection. I can't really claim that it's a great comeback album, but it at least shows the Boys' ability to set their individual discrepancies aside to once again work together in the studio. And as a side note, with the many rappers that reside below our country's median who constantly claim the title of "King of the South"--especially T.I. and Lil' Flip--there will only be one true king: Scarface.

Ludacris

 So far, Luda's career has been on fire. His clever raps, unique style, and versatility on the M.I.C. have earned every bit of airplay on and in MTV, BET, clubs, radio stations, headphones, and car speakers. I'm not one to glorify too many mainstream artists, but Ludacris just has that certain flow that keeps me interested. The key to his success is that he knows how to ride musical waves by applying his distinct flavor to whatever type of song, though without trying to change his particular style for every project (à la Nelly from "Hot in Herre" to "Over and Over"). T.I. has nothing on this man, and he's lucky Ludacris has bigger and better things than to beef it up with him...like playing a pet gerbil named Weathers. If you don't know, Luda has agreed to provide the voice for a gerbil for an animated movie called Lil' Pimp, which is about a grade-schooler who tries to save the "pimping industry" from being taken over by the evil town mayor, played by none other than William Shatner. It's the first all-Flash feature movie, and it's got an all-star cast of famous performers who lend their voices, including Carmen Electra, Lil' Kim, and Bernie Mac. Don't believe me? I'll prove it.

OutKast

No other rap group or rapper from the South has even come close to accomplishing as much as OutKast. How about Nelly, you say? Well, St. Louis, Missouri, is technically considered a part of the Midwest. For more than a decade, OutKast has consistently produced quality and memorable hits, and by doing so, it's been honored with more awards than all other Southern rappers combined. Two years after the release of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, the duo has left its fans anxious for the premiere of its HBO movie/musical, tentatively called Speakerboxxx. The movie's director, Bryan Barber--who has already directed numerous OutKast videos, such as "Roses," "Ghetto Music," and "Hey Ya!"-- is said to be pushing for a summer debut...and possibly even one for the big screen. For the meantime, people can enjoy at least half the group by watching Andre 3000 as he portrays a klutzy gangster named Dabu in the box office hit, Be Cool. (It's too bad people enjoyed Vin Diesel juggling a "pacifier" more so than John Travolta "being cool" on the film's opening weekend.)


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