Life After Cash Money

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Despite the title, this is the second album B.G.'s unleashed since leaving the Cash Money label, and whenever he's rapping about the split, his skills shine. The other topic that sets B.G. on fire is the rapper's late homey Soulja Slim, who B.G. portrays as fool, friend, and legend being disrespected by Cash Money -- all in the same album. You'll need a crash course in Cash Money and New Orleans rap history to figure out all the references on the album, but if you're hip to it, Life After Cash Money is fascinating. In B.G.'s eyes, Slim got punky and pushy, overstepped his thug-life boundaries, and paid for it hard. It's tough love and a rare warning from the street's inner circle, a place where one brash night at the club can earn you a price on your head. B.G.'s slow and lazy Southern style might make him seem flippant about Slim's untimely death, but longtime listeners can school you. B.G.'s role in the game leaves him no time for tears -- he's too busy "trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents," according to the excellent "Geezy Were U Been." He gushes out the respect for the man in the liner notes, and the party jam "Like That" is an excellent collaboration with Slim that wouldn't sound nearly as good if the duo weren't like kin. His comments on Juvenile's return to Cash Money are just as fascinating since he has absolutely no beef with the rapper. B.G.'s just too busy building his own Chopper City empire by any means necessary to care what Juve is doing, although he wishes him the best of luck. They're all refreshing viewpoints and proof B.G. is one of the most insightful rappers in the Southern thug scene. Too bad the production is often trashy or unimaginative and the rapper is way too high in the mix for most of the album. Outsiders might hear it as another cheap album from the South, but followers of the B.G. story couldn't really ask for more lyrically. It's like cracking open his -- most likely nonexistent -- diary and one of the most vivid examples of "don't hate the player, hate the game" on CD. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi