Artist: Pastor TroyTitle: By Choice Or By ForceRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Matt Caputo
Pastor Troy returns to the altar with By Choice or By Force (Fast Life/Koch), his eighth solo sermon. The album is a complete and concentrated effort from a veteran southern MC. Its weaker production is made up for with Troy's sheer ability to carry an album. While the album isn't nearly as sharp as his homily that was 2002s Universal Soldier, the height of his commercial success, it does give Troy a chance to display a wide range of versatility.
"Murda Man 2" finds the Pastor in a real push to maintain the ears of his southern congregation. Preaching "F*ck Lil Scrappy, Lil Jon and Crime Mobb," is an aggressive move for the Atlanta native known for mixing in up-lifting lyrics. With "On The Block", the College Park native makes the dopeboys go crazy and delivers a southern jewel with the help of Criminal Mane and Mr.Mud. "I Like All That" is a successful strip club track where the hood and the gentleman's joint meet. Naturally "Drop That Ass" could find it's way into the topless market. Meanwhile, both "Partner in Crime" featuring Misha and "Down for Life" featuring Kira are serviceable Bonnie and Clyde flavored songs.
The albums central problems seem to be the lack of major guest features and mediocre production. The fourth song "Crossroads" is a introspective track that works well with a catchy piano sample that should have a verse that breaks PT's up, but doesn't. "Pop a Few Bottles" featuring Rasheeda is a solid conceptual attempt at reaching the club DJs, but doesn't retain enough energy to keep partygoers on their feet and off the pews. PT's down south preaching runs a little choppy on the second cut "I Represent This (Can I Get A Witness)", but does manage to pump out flashes of clever lyricism.
While not perfect, By Choice or By Force catches Pastor Troy giving back to the hood. True to form, he covers many bases while not exactly experimenting. This album remains just a few beats, guest verses and a hail-mary away from heaven.