Shop Boyz: Rockstar Mentality

You have to give Da Shop Boyz credit where it’s due. The Atlanta-based rookies’ first single, “Party Like a Rockstar” is right behind Rihanna’s #1 “Umbrella” on the Billboard charts and dubbed the most played rap song in the U.S. according to Radio & Records. This club hit has the masses screaming, “t-t-t-totally dude” while simultaneously throwing the AC/DC hand sign. It has even sparked such chair-throwing crunkness in a few ATL nightspots causing the jam to get banned. So there’s already a degree of mainstream success achieved before even considering their “hood-rock” debut, Rockstar Mentality (On Deck/ Universal Republic). They better thank their lucky (rock) stars because the album might make fans want to smash their CDs rather than guitars.The Georgia trio seem to be using this crunk-rock gimmick to sweep their mediocre lyrical talent under the rug. Of the thirteen tracks half of them incorporate acoustic and electric guitars. Ironically, one of the best tracks, “Bowen Homes” showcases them in a more natural element; passionately describing their struggle. Their southern sound sans the rock-n-roll is a smooth fit to counter tracks like the disappointing “They Like Me” featuring David Banner. On the abovementioned track, they boast, “Look at my rings/complement my bracelets/I think my chains stank/cus’ people making ugly faces.”The marriage of Hip-Hop and rock is not a new phenomenon but the trend has been revisited via R.Kelly’s “Rock Star” and pretty much every track on Good Girl Gone Bad. Though no recent artist has brought back the energy of a Run-D.M.C’s “Walk This Way,” they have provided a new energy in Hip-Hop. Even M.I.M.S. took a stab at the alternative side with his “This Is Why I Rock” remix. The Shop Boyz single is a bit misleading because the album over-promises and under-delivers.It’s almost as if Rockstar Mentality is compiled of “Party Like a Rockstar” remixes and recycled terms, as if the same formula would yield a classic. The frighteningly predictable “Totally Dude” and the nagging chorus on “My Car” lack originality and creativity. There is no doubt that Shop Boyz will make a killing off ringtone downloads and maybe even album sales since they are basking in their buzz. But the people doing the copping probably won’t be real Hip-Hop fans, or be satisfied with the purchase. Good for drunk dance fodder, bad for sober listen.