Hood Hop

Studio Album by released in 2004
Hood Hop's tracklist:
Intro
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Hood Hop
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Tipsy
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Ic Ic (Feat. St. Lunatics)
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Show Your Ass (Feat. Eboni Eyes
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Musty Interlude I
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They Ask Me
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Underwear
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Welcome To Tha Hood
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U Ain't Gotta Like Me (Feat. Big B)
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Musty Interlude Ii
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My Enemies (Feat. Jermaine Dupri)
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Parking Lot
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You & Me (Feat. Sadiyyah)
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Morning Light
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Hood Hop review

Hip Hop has become an industry infatuated with following trends instead of paving the way for new ones. Once one particular sound is popularized, corporate America looks to duplicate it repeatedly for profits. St. Louis is the new Hip Hop spot that the industry is looking to capitalize off of. Following in the footsteps of Nelly, The St. Lunatics & Chingy is St. Louis's newest pop sensation J-Kwon. There is no getting around the fact that without his St. Louis residence and Midwest accent, J-Kwon would just be another unsigned artists struggling to get by. But since those that come before him have had commercial success, labels such as So So Def are now willing to take a chance on an artist merely because his sound is the new trend of the industry. This is never more evident than on J-Kwon's debut release Hood Hop. While J-Kwon intendeds to strike it rich by blending Hip Hop and pop together, the 17-year-old emcee lacks the creative flare that an artist like Nelly brought to the table.

The album begins properly with a track of the same name, and its a pleasant surprise – the Trackboyz production here is bass heavy in the extreme, and certainly sounds nice coming out of the speakers. Following this comes Tipsy, the first release from this album and a head moving, club record, with J-Kwon managing to maintain his simple rhymes. Unless you've been in a coma for 1 year and 4 months, you'll have heard this at least once. Verbally, J-Kwon does little but prove that he can count up to six and back down again – again it’s the beat and the chorus that make the song memorable. IC IC combines cowbell chimes, spongy basslines and sharp snares to provide an interesting slow-tempoed Trackboyz beat for J-Kwon and guests the St Lunatics to mumble unintelligibly over. The focus is then shifted from partying to life in the hood, with J not forgetting his roots in the inner city of St Louis on cuts such as Welcome To The Hood and U Aint Gotta Like Me. Show Your Ass does provide something concrete to take out of this album. The Trackboyz definitely have some skills on the boards. They Ask Me actually shows an attempt by J-Kwon to come with some more material of substance, than club bangers. Trackboyz appropriately provide him with a more mellow beat filled with strings, and without the thumping club beats, Kwon actually becomes more understandable, albeit his attempts at breaking down his short 17 year old life story are still a little clumsy.

In some ways its hard to fault J-Kwon – he's came through from nowhere into an industry awash with cash that chews up and recycles music stars every few months, so its no surprise that this whole album sounds like he's went into the studio and did what he's been told to do. To J-Kwon's benefit, he does have that superstar like flare that will undoubtedly attract many to his cause. He comes off as a confident emcee throughout Hood Hop, and one who knows who his intended listener and market is. If anything you can give J-Kwon credit for being truthful in admitting his intentions of bridging the gap between the pop and rap world. Whether J-Kwon ends up as the one hit wonder many proclaim him to be is something only time will tell. But if J-Kwon intends to gain longevity in this game he will need to show and prove to the entire world that he is not just a puppet of the industry but a respectable artist in his own right.