No Friends

Artist: LoonTitle: No FriendsRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Latifah Muhammad

Falling into virtual obscurity after splitting from Hip-Hop and MTV staple Diddy, Loon is back with a less than perfect, but decent effort in his latest release No Friends (X-Ray/Cleopatra). Proving that his rap persona is rawer since leaving Bad Boy, this album is a more street approach using violence, drugs and women as his topics of choice.

Though he does double as a singer on the hooks of "Run" and "Eyes on U", he redeems himself with good rhyme schemes (despite lyrical simplicity). Also, the addition of Boss Up Entertainment artist Gritty, who takes more control of the album than Loon does. On "Eyes on U" he sticks to the ladies man, Harlem World mantra that he's famous for. With sly lyrics like "Girl it ain't no reason for leavin'/I'm not one for cheatin'...girl I got my eyes on you," you can't help but picture him whispering this explanation into his girl's ear at the club

Transitioning to an attempt at an ear pleasing beat with the infusion of violins and a flute on "Came to Get Down", Loon makes sure that we know that he will survive without the shine of the Bad Boy limelight. The most anticipated song on the album is the Mase dis record "NOVA/What happened to Pastor?" But Loon loses points for putting "Mase Dis Track" in parenthesis on the back of the album. Every great dis record doesn't need to say who the record is dissing. Loon calls Mase out for not only being a phony, but for getting money and not giving back to his neighborhood. The beef is definitely personal, but not deep enough for more than one verse.

The three star effort is a good step towards putting Loons name back in the ears of fans wondering where he's been. Many songs on the album sound like they were mixed in the basement of someone's mom's house, which adds to its underground feel. It's hard to regain street credibility after performing in "I Need A Girl" with Diddy and Usher, but Loon's trying his hardest. Unfortunately, since Gritty is on more tracks than the album gives him credit for, folks might be left less interested in Loon, and more interested in when Gritty's album is dropping.