December 1, 2009 | 1:03pm
It's an album title that pretty much speaks for itself. Although one would think that three years after the chart success of Juvenile's 2006 album Reality Check, the Crescent City rapper might attempt something a little more humble than Cocky & Confident (the title of his new record, out today on UTP/Atlantic Records). Of course, those two words put together are what turned Terius Gray into Juvenile -- and motivates, along with the $$$, just about every other mainstream MC. And on the cusp of 2010, it's Juvenile's assured mentality that allows his Southern drawl, street grit and cash money flows to remain relevant in a time when skinny jeans and day-glo continue to saturate the world of hip hop.
Prior to the release of this 72-minute exhibition of rhymes about life in the fast lane chased by floating synths and snaps of 808 swagger, Juvenile decided to take things in a new direction. In contrast to his last album, laced with talents from top producers like Manny Fresh, Scott Storch and Lil' Jon, and featuring cameos by Trey Songz, Ludacris and so on, Juve opted to employ a slew of fresh producers and unknown talent. Skills of producers like Precise, C. Smith, Mouse, S-8ighty, FAT BOI and Lu Balz breathe a surprising amount of life into the album's singles "Gotta Get It" and "Hands on You". And though you might not hear names like Kango Slim, Youngin' and Q-Corvette on the radio everyday, they make memorable contributions to the album on songs like "You Can't Stop Me and "Break It Down".
Kicking off with the title track, "Cocky & Confident", Juvenile's trade mark delivery emerges atop cascading drum beats and lines that show you that this gold-toothed icon of late 90s rap is far from finished: "I am my dreams, my plans, let me in, let me in goddamn/ I'm still on my shit, lil'' bitch, whatcha mean I quit?/If you're a pit bull, I'm Mike Vick/I'll bury your house right quick."
And while his last album carried notes of sorrow and mourning from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (buried between ubiquitous booty-centric rhymes and hustler anthems), Cocky & Confident
is mostly a tribute to the "look at me, I'm rich" hip hop cliche. But even if our crappy economic times leave a bad taste in your mouth, it's hard not enjoy tracks like
We Be Gettin' Money,
by far the best song on the album, packing a chorus that is sure to make your Cadillac (or Honda Civic) bounce with authority.
The album closes with "Listen", a cover of the song "Listen to Your Heart" originally by Swedish Pop Group Roxette (random, much?). It warns about the perils of the streets and reminds listeners to keep positive people in your life. It's a last gasp, momentary pause from all the ass shakin' that just might warm your heart.
Sure, there are a handful of times where Juve slips into the safe zone of run-of-the mill rhymes (i.e. "Feeling Right", "Top of the Line", "All Over You"). On balance, though, Cocky & Confident serves as a solid edition to Big Easy hip hop with the skills to back up it's title.