Artist: Young BuckTitle: Buck The WorldRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton
By now, G-Unit has become almost an institution of rap music. What began as 50 Cent's requisite side group has grown into a confederation of artists from all over the country and as G-Unit South's flagship artist, Young Buck represents the beginning of that transition. Ever the businessman, 50 had the foresight to capitalize on the Southern takeover and brought Buck into the fold both to pinch-hit for the incarcerated Tony Yayo and begin to expand G-Unit's reach. As part of the group, Buck only adds a pinch of the South to the New York aesthetic, but Buck the World (G-Unit/Interscope) is defiantly the other way around as Buck mixes bits and pieces of the East and West with raw Tennessee.
While a few tracks (like the 50 assisted "Hold On") fit into the expected East Coast method, the majority of the album finds Buck in full-on South mode, be it with big horns and attitude on the single "Get Buck" or the smooth drawl of "I Know You Want Me." Buck seems equally comfortable when reaching out West for "Haters" (with perennial hook-man Kokane), and it's this versatility that makes Buck worth listening to. While the multi-directional approach is mostly an attempt to cover all the commercial bases, Buck is charismatic enough to pull it off.
Predictably, the downside is a lack of real substance. It's hard to get any real grasp on Buck as an individual since he mostly sticks to the usual, formulaic subject matter. Granted, guns and drugs are more or less what a G-Unit album is for, but there seems to be something more going on in Buck's head and the little glimpses we do get (such as the introspective "Slow Ya Roll") make it that much more frustrating to listen to the rest.
Ultimately, Young Buck's style makes him the G-Unit rapper for people who don't like G-Unit. Buck strays enough to prove that he's his own man, but the core of Buck the World is still business as usual. Yong Buck continues to show potential though, and as he grows into his identity, he's likely stay relevant. Buck the World isn't a classic, but as pop-rap goes these days, it at least manages to be worth a few spins until the next album from 50 Cent (or Jim Jones, or Young Jeezy, or whoever else) hits the streets.