Reality Check

Artist: JuvenileTitle: Reality CheckRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana

Young boys in Middle America request fake gold teeth as stocking stuffers, "Magnolia" is no longer just a flower, and now there are several new and exciting similes to describe the movement of a female's rear. It's greatly in part thanks to Juvenile, former hood chairman and grilled mouth spokesperson of the Cash Money Millionaires. Most people, even the truant rascals in the home for the wayward, do not stay juvenile forever. Still here the man is, year after year of being in club, strip club, and backyard barbecue rotation, and still drumming. Maybe the rap name "Juvenile" is not as apt as the more descriptive "Rejuvenate", because despite testy situations like being outcast from Cash Money, Juvenile is back with Reality Check (UTP/Atlantic).

In the very criminally tainted area of New Orleans that is home to the Magnolia Projects, Juvenile's milestone 30 years of life can justifiably qualify him for the rocking chair. Still, as the wise are known to do, Juvenile approaches Reality Check with more than an arsenal of stories. From his former dispute with a certain Fireman that produced 500 Degreez of beef to his flesh heavy tribute to his deceased comrade Souljah Slim in the "Slow Motion" video, Juvy has strongly proved that he is a seasoned and savvy veteran.

There are a numbertracks that jump at you on his seventh, or so, full length. Last year’s "Rodeo" is a smooth Eddie Kendrick's sample with a cool drum pattern similar to a New Orlean pimp's relaxed heartbeat. Ludacris stops by the neighborhood on "Pop You" and "Holla Back" is an upbeat track that keeps the blood pumping steadily. Juvenile even poses some thoughtful queries for the average hustler on "Why Not" when he asks, "You hate jakes?/You just came home from a case?/ Can you make a name?/Will you be patient in the game?/Will you state your claim?/ And repetitions stay the same?" Overall the album has a very worthy combination of vocal presence and production that keeps it fresh. There's a little something for the one night stands, for those aspiring dimestackers, and for people in need of a soundtrack their speedometer on the highway.

Besides dropping another strong album, Juvy has managed be a part of history by being one of the first artists to shoot a video ("Get Ya Hustle On") in Louisiana's Ninth Ward, post-Katrina. With the exception of unsuccessful lottery tickets like "Come Out Your Laundry", this album will get a few good surfs in on the radio waves. It must be the Cajun carbohydrates because Juvenile is showing no signs of slowing down in the '06.