Tum Tum: Eat Or Get Ate

After a blockbuster signing-bonus, 2006 watched Big Tuck tucker out. After Universal’s eight-figure frontier into Dallas rap failed to go gold, it’s remarkable that the executives would green-light Tum Tum’s Eat or Get Ate (T-Town/Universal Republic) so quickly. But like the release’s title suggests about street culture, Tum Tum’s marketability and talent may decide the fate of his city’s exposure, let alone his label’s presence. Tum Tum has a knack for geographically dancing the line between the ringtone-raps of Hurricane Chris and Trill Fam and the underground liberty observed from Trae and Z-Ro. “Caprice Musik” implements a catchy chorus, but still captures a mixtape simplicity that longtime fans will respect. “She’s a Go” though, which resorts back to the baseball metaphors for foreplay, might’ve been better suited on a teen rapper’s debut. On “T.U.M.,” the rapper speaks about the abuse he suffered as a child, before converting to a media-darling alongside Jim Jones on “Show Time.” It appears as if Tum cannot decide between the Yung Joc or Young Jeezy lane. These liberal leaps from one track to the next make Eat or Get Ate less of an album, and more of a demo to the public. The producers however, are hardly at the demo level. While Scott Storch appears to have squeezed out “Do That” on a lunch-break, Mannie Fresh gives “Hood S**t” the same careful attention that he gave T.I. or B.G. Equally, it’s in-house producer The Missing Element who fills the gaps nicely, with the energetic “T.U.M.” or the rattling bass of “Show Time.” Aside from the poorly-placed piano ballad “Better Days” from Play N Skills, Eat or Get Ate holds its own with beats, but several concepts and choruses too closely replicate hits from other southern rappers.It’s hard to tell who will eat up Tum Tum’s debut album. Pending a strong single, this album has its jewels amidst the filler, for those who choose to search. Still, just like Tuck six months ago, this album has scattered direction, and lacks a trademark both in lyric and in sound. Efforts such as Eat or Get Ate, which parallel so many releases, emphasize the value of a hit single, in both marketing and understanding the men behind the mics.