By Trenton Shaw
With the release of Living Legends, their first album on the Bad Boy Records, 8 Ball and MJG take a turn for the worst. These rappers have built a name for themselves for over 10 years in the southern underground rap scene, only to have their music stripped of its raw flavour by mainstream pop production.
With the exception of a couple tracks, Living Legends is packed with monotonous synth-heavy production paling in comparison to the grooves they immortalized in the past. There is a reason the Alchemist and Kanye West brought sampled soul based grooves back to rap. It should not be a huge surprise that legendary soul, blues, and funk artists create better music than P. Diddy and his synthesizers. Previous 8 Ball and MJG albums were also synth-heavy, but undeniably catchy. Their grooves had a classic feel with incorporated elements like Dr. Dre’s patented high-end west coast organ.
The lyrical subject matter for 8 Ball and MJG on Living Legends is nothing new: bitches, cash, and killing. Rhymes such as “I got more Franklins in me than Aretha” are about the highest level of intellectual sophistication these thugs achieve on the new album. Unfortunately their slow southern rapping style allows you to catch every word of their unimaginative lyrics. Ludacris and Twista both out perform 8 Ball and MJG on their own albums, confirming these southern rappers are nothing to get excited about.
Although tracks like “Straight Cadillac Pimpin’” have 8 Ball and MJG flowing their best, even hardcore southern rap fans might have trouble enjoying this album. Living Legends is filled with the typical stereotypes and ridiculously blunt machismo that makes gangster rap seem like a joke.