Artist: JuvenileTitle: Juve the GreatRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Raheim Shabazz
Die-hard Juvenile fans have been waiting in the wings, anticipating a release from the Magnolia rapper from The Big Easy since his 2001 set, "Project English." After his sophomore album Solja Rags (1997) became an underground classic-selling over 200,000 copies-the stage was set for him to become part of the Hot Boys, an all-star line up consisting of Cash Money Records artists Juvenile, B.G., Lil Wayne & Turk. Not long after, he released the four times Platinum selling 400 Degreez (1998), but disappointment came with the release of The G-Code (1999), which didnt fair well with fans and music critics.
If 400 Degreez is hot, Juve's latest attempt sits on the equator closest to the sun. The first single, "In My Life," finds in-house producer Mannie Fresh on its radio friendly hook and is sure to receive heavy airplay. With an unparalleled style that only Juve can deliver he spits poignant lyrics:
"I scream the "U" cause I mean it,
The difference is you be throwin yo' shit up when you scream it - I seen it!,
Shit all the obstacles that I been through,
What made you think, I'ma be scared of a bitch like you?,
I'm ya dawg, let me get it on consignment,
You ain't paid them last people yet, dawg, don't even remind me,
I gained knowledge, my game polished and it's obvious,
You can't block it, you can't knock it, this is profit!"
"Bounce Back," featuring his labelmate Baby (a.k.a. Bird Man), is a stellar song that should be the next single. Possessing another radio-ready, catchy hook and backed by the production of Mannie Fresh, it signifies Juve's return from his brief hiatus from Cash Money while spitting the following lyrics:
"Tryin to be here to see my seeds, when they have they seeds,
Long as I breathe ain't nothin in this world that they can't be,
Yeah I done fucked up, slipped and sniffed that coke,
Started tweakin and broke in them people house next do',
Shot a nigga for smokin rocks on my mom back porch..."
Backed by his Magnolia cohorts Wacko and Skip on "Down South Posted" listeners are keened into the semi-autographical tales of what it's like growing up in the New Orleans ghetto. Retelling the violence and drug plagued lifestyle, the trio serves us with the good and bad side of living in the South. "It Ain't Mines" has him facing legal woes, but in the end all that matters is that "Juve The Great" is vindicated. Juve brings his delivery up a notch on this one proving why he is the best lyricist out of the Cash Money family. Things seem to slow down a bit when Juve rides the bass line on the title song, "Juve The Great," where he shares his life story and some interesting personal reflection.
Mannie Fresh produced only five of the seventeen tracks, which is a good thing since this CD will not suffer from too much of that Cash Money sound. By breaking away from the monotony of the bling, bling lyrics that have over-saturating the market, all in all, Juve the Great is Juvenile's best album to date.