C-Bo: West Side Ryders III—The Southeast Connection

In the film Rhyme and Reason, Ice-T said that gangsta rap’s underlying ethos is, “You, listener, I will shoot you in your motherf*ckin’ face.” So what does that mean when a critic reviews a release from the only rapper to ever violate parole based on his lyrics? C-Bo apparently walks it like he talks it. Fortunately, the recent Cashville signee, as well as the talent that he showcases on West Side Ryders III: The Southeast Connection (West Coast Mafia), talks it quite well. There are no surprises here, as each track links to form a panorama of almost retro Cali hustler topics, from guns and drugs to cash and cars. There’s also the trademark pause-for-a-blunt introspection that 2Pac brought to the field, which at times, ignites for compelling listening.As regards the latter, newcomer Fire notably lets loose over O.G. funk classic “Strawberry Letter 23” on “Up in Da Morning”, in a whisper of desperation about the hustler’s monotony. Other tracks bypass this route and are just hard as hell; invigorating and meant to be played loudly. “Street Life” with C-Bo and the Realest and “Got Dough” with C-Bo and C Thug fit the bill, curb servin’ enough testosterone and steel for unlikely simps across the globe to suddenly twist fingers and stick their chests out. Stylistically, listeners should not sleep on the west. Veterans Gangsta Draysta and Brotha Lynch Hung command broken and twisted flows across “The Real” and “Kicc Down the Door” that challenge the usual. They don’t sound as furious as some of the other artists, perhaps content to zone out on the figurative sherm and write rhymes. So how did Cali street talk become ubiquitous? How does it sound almost nostalgic to those who’ve never even seen Sacramento, L.A. or the Bay? Dre and Snoop broadcast this overall culture to mainstream prominence (see HBO’s Bangin’ in Little Rock for reference). But underground Bay brethren and street rap legends like C-Bo and Spice 1 proudly represent the foot soldiers’ grind of the movement. The author of “Gas Chamber” gives the author of “187 Proof” room to stretch out on near album highlight “Superfly,” where Spice 1 celebrates material success while he can. It’s Ryders’ catchiest track and has the homemade feel of the weary yet always youthful doing music for the love as well as the money. That same homemade feel and catchiness, in addition to enough trademark aggression, givesWest Side Ryders III: The Southeast Connection enough charm to overcome any redundancy. It’s clear too that C-Bo, as he heads to greater exposure with Young Buck’s nascent label, won’t leave any of the West Coast behind.