Wood Work

Artist: Da BackWudzTitle: Wood WorkRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine

Having achieved monumental success as an R&B and Pop producer, Dallas Austin is still itching for a hit Hip-Hop act. The last time he eyed up a Southern rap talent, it was Poison Clan’s JT Money and the nauseating “Who Dat” chants that followed. Seven years later, it’s the “greater” Decatur duo Da BackWudz that rep Southern forestry with Wood Work (Rowdy).

The group’s single is not a fair representation of their talents. The Willy Wonka-inspired, “I Don’t Like the Look of It” is an audio search party for a catchphrase. This borders Snap music, and defies the organic theme the duo seems to seek. “Same Song” is more exemplary of the new ground that the ‘Wudz are breaking. Over an uncompromised Sade sample, the groups attack the radio industry for their programming practices. Not only are the music and verses smooth, the concept shows courage from a group distributed by Universal. The album’s main attraction seems to be the Nas and Slim Thug supported, “You Gonna Luv Me Remix.” Although that collaboration in of itself is a conversation piece, Nas channels 16 from his Nastradamus days whereby he ironically threatens to sleep with a hater’s wife, amidst a slew of sophomoric bars. Slim Thug builds upon the original nicely with trademark deep vocals and slow drawl over the light and peppy beat.

Da Backwudz get their musical backing from Milwaukee Black, who had previously done work with The Inc.’s Black Child. The Midwest producer molds short, crashing sampled loops like The Heatmakerz with softer, more instrument-based compositions. This contrast makes for a versatile album, but a group that’s hard to pin. T.I. associate DJ Toomp puts up a more conventional ATL sound with “Getting 2 It,” heavy on keys and shouting chorus. Dallas Austin, through his expertise, may be an influence on the softer sound of the album. The producer comes hard though, on his lone addition. “Lock and Load” features a slow, but heavy guitar melody that plays perfectly against the high-hats. “Welcome 2 Da Backwudz” is another impressive song, using a 60’s brass sample with scratches to create an up-tempo, engaging record that a debut group needs.

Sho-Nuff and Big Marc are neither the next Big Boi and Andre, nor the next T.I. and Jeezy. Unlike so many of the burgeoning movements outside of the A, they’re not trying to be. But while the group follows no other’s blueprint, their own may not be as precise as it needs to be. Wood Work teeters between the activist and the idle, the abrasive and the mellow, and the disposable and the refined. Though diverse approaches are encouraged, this debuting duo needs a bit more consistency. Will they attract fans in a critique of Clear Channel, or by way of samples and hooks that’d make Charlie Bucket give the gas face?