Buck The World
Aside from Mr. Jackson himself, Young Buck seems to be the member with the least questions. Contemplation on whether the Memphis, Tennessee MC would fit in with the East Coast aesthetic of G-Unit was quelled with his performance on the group's Beg For Mercy album, his solo talents were proven with Straight Outta Cashville, and his street cred was famously verified at the VIBE Awards a few years ago. Considering G-Unit's present losing streak--albums from Tony Yayo, Mobb Deep and Lloyd Banks each flopped, respectively--they need Buck's workhorse consistency to help pull them out of their rut. With Buck The World, Young Buck continues to provide all of the answers.
A pleasant surprise on Buck's sophomore set is a rejuvenated embrace of his southern roots, with much of the disc's production and guest list. While much of Straight Outta Cashville focused on the contrast between G-Unit's NY grit and Buck's southern drawl, Buck The World sees Buck prospering in his own element. Lil Jon's bouncy "Money Good" is a just-add-water strip club anthem; "Pocket Full of Paper" sees DJ Toomp's tried and true synthesizers continuing to work to perfection, and Polow Da Don's minimalist horns and bass on "Get Buck" sound like they're straight from an HBCU's marching band. Buck keeps the theme with his artist collaborations as well, piling 8Ball & MJG, UGK (both members on separate tracks), Young Jeezy, and T.I. on four tracks drunken with southern comfort. Unlike his Unit brethren, Buck has always existed outside of his clique and this shows in the one and only G-Unit guest spot. The collabo in question comes from 50 Cent on the Dr. Dre-produced "Hold On," a trumpet-fueled track with swagger for days.
Buck still displays his production adaptability and song versatility throughout the album. He easily shifts between the previous southern numbers, the west coast G-Funk on "Haters," and Hi-Tek's Midwestern guitar licks on "I Ain't Fuckin With You." Buck also shows multiple dimensions lyrically. Expectedly, "Clean Up Man" and "Buss Yo Head" are filled with generic gangsterims, and the Letoiya Williams-featured "U Ain't Goin Nowhere" is an enjoyable (albeit unoriginal) ladies' joint. But instead of the usual, obligatory single heartfelt track, Buck opens up on several instances. "Buck The World" features him recounting his days of struggling with empty pockets, complete with a well-placed and performed hook by Lyfe Jennings. Buck tells the story of a black girl lost and touches on a laundry list of familial issues on "Slow Ya Roll," and on the closing "Lose My Mind," Buck manically yells his frustrations over a murky backdrop by Eminem. On his more personal tracks, Buck seems to genuinely struggle between maintaining his hard, nonchalant persona and expressing how he really feels, giving himself vulnerability unseen by his G-Unit cohorts.
The flaws in Buck The World are debatable. While Buck's versatility serves him well, none of his subject matter is anything new, and he doesn't retread traditional ground much better than anyone else. However, Buck makes up for a lack of originality and artistry with a consistent bar-to-bar tenacity, charisma that appropriately seesaws for the occasion and his gruff, southern drawl that somehow sounds perfect on every track. Buck doesn't seem to be aiming to break any molds or to push the envelope; he's just being himself, and in that quest, mission's accomplished.