The Truth

Artist: TRUTitle: The TruthRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Bill Low Key Heinzelman

The rise and fall of No Limit Records is well documented. What was once Hip-hop's most dominant record label is now a mere shadow of its former self. With No Limit on life support, Master P is trying hard to resuscitate his label. While most of P's attempts have fallen short, No Limit's newest release, The Truth by TRU (The New No Limit/Koch Records) is the best the label has had to offer in a long time.

It is hard to believe it has been six long years since the last TRU album. But with the incarceration of C-Murder, the trio, which includes Master P and Silkk The Shocker, has had to undergo a major transformation. With C gone, newcomer Halleluyah fills in nicely, while other No Limit Soldiers such as Afficial, C-Los, Blak, Yougi and Jazz make various appearances as well. But the biggest change is the production on The Truth. When Master P decided to cut his ties with Beats By The Pound, No Limit was arguably never the same. The label struggled to gain the gritty edge it once had on the production side and has suffered ever since. But on The Truth, beat maker Drumma Boy puts forth the best production effort No Limit has seen in years. Instead of the gimmicky and bland beats of the past few years, Drumma Boy provides some impressive dark and hard hitting beats.

The combination of light piano keys, thumping bass and a chilling vocal sample on "Buckle Up" is one of Drumma Boy's best efforts on the album, as he even makes Master P sound respectable again. P sounds even better over the moody guitar riff and drum line of "Street Army", as he furiously addresses C-Murder's incarceration; "C-Murder doing a bid and didn't do the crime. See my niggaz don't snitch if their life is on the line". TRU continues to bring the heat with the triumphant horns of "Drama", the fierce drums of "Hood & Street", and the gun toting tales of "Squeeze". Even Halleluyah impresses over Drumma Boy's classical piano loop on "Welcome To New Orleans". While lyrically Halleluyah relies on his generic street tales, his gritty demeanor is felt throughout the track, making it hard not to feel what he is portraying.

Even though the hardcore street tracks on The Truth make for the best No Limit album in recent memory, it is the forced commercial and club efforts that bring down the album. The generic booty shaking anthem of "Shake It" suffers from a lame hook, as well as bland lyrics. The x-rated sex tales on "Sea Saw For Me" is another lackluster attempt that is all too misplaced on The Truth. In addition, the chicken head influenced "Headhunter" succumbs to the same flaws.

Those expecting another inferior release from No Limit Records will be very surprised at the outcome of TRU's latest album. While the album is not a full return to the label's glory days, it certainly takes some steps in the right direction thanks to stronger production. It is still too early to tell if Master P can save his sinking ship, but for the meantime No Limit fans should be pleased with The Truth.