Saturday, August 6, 2016

Slim Thug's domain may be an American king-dumb in fourth 'Hogg Life' LP

Hogg Life Vol. 4: American King by Slim Thug
Word must have gotten back to the original “Thugga” himself, Slim Thug, that the last two parts of his Hogg Life album-series, Vol. 2: Still Surviving and Vol. 3: Hustler of the Year, were being seen in the eyes of listeners as too basic, formulaic and superficial because his newest installment in the string, Vol. 4: American King, was intentionally recorded with a more mature, wise tone from Thug. Immediately after he begins rapping in the first cut, you’ll be able to tell that this time Thug has come with some (contrived?) character and depth, and it stays this way all the way to the end.
The nature of Thug’s rhymes is still very rudimentary and facile in his constantly slow tempo of delivery, and the productions by Mr. Lee, G&B, Donnie Houston and the others are totally unremarkable and run-of-the-mill like the imagination put into filling the guest-spots, that feature Boosie BadAzz, X.O. and Nikki Lactson, but the common messages and lessons Thug gives us make up for both lesser aspects of the disc and the rapper’s recent lacking album-performances enough for a little redemption and no more.
Thug’s emphasis on a positive attitude and hard work (which could be propaganda telling us to work for “the man” how “the man” likes until our backs give out) pops up regularly and often, and he varies his topics only somewhat across the entire length of American King. He is critical of the childish primitive behavior of folks in ghetto communities, saddened by the loss of his friends to prison and death, and is committed to avoiding the same fate. He envisions a brighter future for “his people” as he refers to them and is mournful and dumbfounded by the inexplicable ways of the status quo in the hood, using violence in the black community as a prominent example.
His commitment to hustling and grinding and his dedication to his offspring, trademarks of his personality and style, are of course very much evident in the project, but nowhere does he disapprove of the grossly uneven, oppressive capitalist economy that brought him to great wealth and superstardom and many other respectable working people to dead or limited ends. Moments like “Chuuch” suggest that Thug’s solution is to try and pray away the problems in our system or hope that God fixes them, both irrational options. He keeps saying “Hold Your Head Up” and that things will “Get Better,” but it’s easy for him to say. He’s rich, and too many of us aren’t.
After contemplating how Slim Thug does business on this album, it almost seems like he’s saying whatever he has to to make customers out of his critics. It’s suspicious that Thug would make three albums last year of mostly kingpin/mogul-type rap content and then one this year of deep philosophical perspective. If Slim Thug is a caring concerned representative of the modest masses, why didn’t this side of him appear to any considerable extent in any of his 2015 LPs or those from years prior? It is certainly noted and maybe even appreciated that Thug would put forth meaningful words like those in American King, but they are all ones that the few powerful elite-members of the media would approve of and not necessarily ones that only the bottom ninety-nine percent of the population would approve of, i.e. populist, socialist, progressive values that would enfranchise and empower all, not make promises that may not be kept or come true.
American King is perhaps offered more to ensure Thug’s continued music career survival and our obedience to buy his products than to enlighten us actually, and while this is supposed to be an improvement on the first three entries in the Hogg Life saga (in fact, it’s only as good as The Beginning which itself is only a little better than 2 and 3), it mainly repeats mainstream talking points and agendas, rather than challenging the foundation, core and structure of our modern day society. And ultimately, it’s difficult to tell if Slim Thug is all the way sincere with his views here. On one hand, American King seems to encourage smart sensible thoughts and behavior in people on the surface, but on the other, it also seems to foster in us complacent satisfaction with the heavy problematic way that things are so as not to spread revolutionary beliefs or start grassroots collectivism at the bottom.
2 out of 5 stars

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