Wow, the new South, A&R's and everything! There is a musical migration taking place as MC's from across the country are adjusting their tune to reflect the sounds and styles from below the Mason-Dixon Line. Major labels, Radio and Hip-Hop America are indulging in the successful tasting Pie of Southern Rap, and now Hurricane Chris wants a slice.
Born during the era of Bush Pt.1, Hurricane Chris has had a grip on his Shreveport, Louisiana hometown for a few years now, impressive for a rapper not yet 21. Looking to stand out from his Magnolia state brethren Lil' Wayne and Lil' Boosie, Hurricane Chris is pushing the Ratchet movement, a Louisiana version of music that looks to have the same impact of Atlanta's crunk and the Bay area's hyphy. Hurricane set the summer on fire with his club smash, A Bay Bay, which caught the attention of Atlanta uber producer Mr. Collipark. Hoping to duplicate the same magic he has created for the Ying Yang Twins, and new American Teen idol Soulja Boy, Collipark and Hurricane Chris's Ratchet City crew have stuck to the script and created a formulaic album, 51/50 Ratchet, reaching for sales and skipping on substance, but also showing glimpses of hope.
The LP opens with Getting Money, arguably the best song on the album. Produced by Phunk Dawg and co-helmed by Collipark, Hurricane Chris sets the tone with his unique voice and distinctive flow, with Missy Elliot protégé Nicole Wray providing the silky hook over the booming opus. It seems as if this track is inspired by U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, as Chris explains even though his tax bracket is different, he still has plenty to discover. On New Fashion, Hurricane takes an amusing, charlatan look in the mirror over the Package Store thumper, as he mocks the rappers today for having nothing to talk about but the finer things in life. The album starts to get infuriatingly predictable, as Chris breezes through glossy, empty club bangers, Doin' My Thang, The Hand Clap, and Beat in My Trunk. Of course there's an ode to gang-banging, fittingly titled Bang, and a weak epic for the ladies, Touch Me, where at one point we find Hurricane willing to lose his hearing for a particular woman, and then letting her know she better not think of having his baby. But Hurricane shows promise, as he and fellow rapper Boxie get loose on the Collipark concoction Playas Rock, a sure radio hit inspired by Earth Wind and Fire's sultry Love's Holiday. Hurricane Chris doesn't change the game with his song Momma, but it's refreshing to hear him acknowledge that he had two parents guiding him growing up, even after his father left the household.
There are a lot of opportunities Hurricane Chris missed with his album, but it seems as if it were done purposefully. Today's standards reflect that making an album is more about lucre than art. At 18, the Hurricane has seen a lot, but by his own admission still has plenty to learn, and that's what I want to hear him write about. Hopefully on his next album, he'll make the difficult choice of making an album with more narratives and less filler. Once he does that, making his mark in this game will be as easy as taking candy from a bay-bay.