"Down For Life" is the debut album from the group who are best-known as the shortened form of this, D4L. The group are from Atlanta, and thier debut single "Laffy Taffy" sparked a debate over the originaly of thier material as they showcased a new sub-genre to Dirty South Rap named Snap Music (a style which Dem Franchize Boyz claim to have originated). The group consist of members Fabo, Mook-B, Stoney, and Shawty Lo, of which the first and last of them are now known for their solo work. However, this is their 2005 album, and since then the group have changed.
To open up the album D4L represent the neighborhood in Altanta where they all claim to come from, Bankhead. With recent times many may doubt whether this is true of Shawty Lo (with the beef between himself and T.I. which uncovered that they both may not have actually come from this part of the A.
Regardless of this issue, this is a very strong tune and a very good way to start off the album, as an introduction from the group, having them introduce what they are about. To those who aren't aware of the culture get a chance to experience it as they show differences between themselves and the rest of Atlanta by having them rock black tees instead of white ones (as Dem Franchize Boyz). Fabo's sing-rapping is given the most attention here, and he seems to be very proud of where he grew up.
2. "Laffy Taffy"
Here's the big debut single from the group, and the tune which manged to propel them into success with an original sound, at th time you could only compare them to Dem Franchize Boyz, who had gained fame through "Oh I Like They Like Me", and as the production was so similar many thought that they all worked together on pioneering a new movement. Although this was partly true, a feud was initiated as they couldn't agree on which prducer invented it, either K-Rab or Mr. Collipark. Aside from this controversy surrounding it, the tune is a banger and has the group rapping about certain stripper-related things (which was a big topic from 2005-2006 in Hip Hop and R&B).
3. "What Can U Do"
After hyping the listener up with a couple of exciting tune, the mood is not lost as they contiune with the high-energy sounds with another big Snap Music tune. Here they go for a big dance tune, but unlike others who just call out moves to do when performing this type of track (Soulja Boy), you have Fabo mixing these light-hearted rhymes with a little Gangsta Rap in his original way (of singing his raps with Gospel influence).
Everything is brought down when you here the instrumental introduction to this one, making a sharp contrast to everything elese which had been heard from them up to this point as you get a piano melody to kick it off. This all signifies a change as Stuntman a.k.a. Shawty Lo steps up for a solo tune. I was pleased to heard that he wasn't sounding as he does in recent times with nursery-rhyme tracks like "Dey Know", it was a lot more relaxed as he invites us into his world.
5. "Do It Like Me Baby"
I wans't impressed by the ordering of the tracks when you hear down-beat tune like what was just heard in Shawty Lo's solo Gangsta Rap tune, to then be followed up by a typical dance tune from the group as it takes away from all of the menaing in his words as he spoke about his troublesome past, and then we are forced to forget it all and get up to groove again. I think this is what prevented me from enjoying this tune as I was brought down so far that this average Snap tune did little to effect me.
6. "Front Street"
D4L continue to try and win you over by forcing a dance track upon you once again, but I felt as though it was a lot easier to get into than before as it was a heavy tune and I had to enjoy listening to the bassy production which sounded a lot more like what Dem Franchize Boyz were doing around this time. It's a shame that this banging tune was only a little over tow minutes long because it was just the type of Bounce and Snap mix that I enjoy to hear from them.
I was very impressed by this trackas I wouldn't have expected to hear as much quality as what I received when I heard this one which had Fabo rapping about getting "Geeked Up" on cocaine. He raps it in such a way that I would have to compare it to Afroman and this is nothing to do with the content, it's all in Fabo's delivery and rhymes which are of a humorous nature.
8. "Betcha Can't Do It Like Me"
This is the second single from the album, but it didn't really get the same levels of exposure as "Laffy Taffy", I believe that this the largely down to the fact that it it is so similar to it that it could sound as if they are trying to make as much out of such a little fad in production and dance rap, but I thought that it was very strong at what it was designed for.
9. "I'm Da Man"
It takes a while to get into this on as there is a minute-long intro to it, which has Shawty Lo say all the little phrases which he has made mainstream today with his new solo album "Units In The City" beofr the rest of the members come in to explain why they are so good with girls to. The chorus does get annoying with time, but the the third verse makes up for it in my opinion. Apart from this it's quite repetitive.
10. "Diggin' Me"
I was extremly impressed by the production of this tune as the inventive composition of having the rhythm made up of backtracking made for something very unxpctdly strong, with the progression of it and the easing in of other sounds, such as the snap and bass made for a very effective sound as you appreciate all the individual element which went into making these new sounds for this alternative to Crunk. From here it wouldnt eally matter what was rapped, as it was so nice to hear, but it turned out to have so decent rhymes in the verse too, so a good all-rounder.
11. "Get Real Low"
Following a brief break from the lively tunes, you get yet another dance tune from D4L. I find Fabo's voice to be quite reassuring in hearing that you are in for a strong dance track, as his boardering on excessive energy is the key to making you enjoy these tracks from him, without this they risk going in the direction of Shawty Lo, who raps in a very different way to what I like in the group.
12. "Make It Rain"
Once agin the group change things up by altering the tone of the album, here they go from performing a big dance tune to a track which has them reassure the girls that they are bringing up enough money to "Make It Rain" on them. Although I liked the concept, it wasn't done very well with chaotic production behind it and a poor performance by the Oakland Hip Hop legend Too $hort, who didn't sound as if he was trying (but then again, he never does).
13. "Sh*ttin' Me"
The poor quality of the tunes continue from here as you get another boring tune from them. I couldn't find anthing in it to enjoy as it had DJ Scream on production and judging by what he did on the new Soulja Boy mixtape, he's not really that good at what he does, and with this in my head I just couldn't get into it. The way that the lines where listed made it monotonous, and didn't allow the group to offer anything original with so much restriction.
14. "Game Owe Me"
Hear you have a predictable tune from the group as they go for an emotional end to the album. Although it was expected I thought that the way that Fabo (in particular) when about rapping it all was very exciting as he offered so many thought-provoking tales of his past, but aside from this it was quite plain.
Although I did enjoy listening to much of this album, I thought that they were being quite misleading by performing so many dance tunes, as it takes attention away from the more menaingful tracks. As a result, you cannot fully involve yourself in what is said when the decide to offer tracks with some lyrical depth. The few attemptsat these tuines didn't go down too well anyway, and so I think that it would be best for them to just stick to the Pop Rap. However, I expect, if it ever happens, that another album wound't be as strong as Fabo would probably leave, and without him leading the dance tunes the group would become a lot darker. Shawty Lo would struggle to convince people that his work as a Gangsta Rapper to be convincing if he went back to perform with the group too.
If you are the type of person woho enjoys listnein to other Snap Music artists, then i expect that you are already aware of this album and what ithas to offer, but I think that if you may have enjoyed a couple of Dem Franchize Boyz, DJ Unk and Soulja Boy tunes, then this will be another good one to add to the collection. However if you are into more traditional Gangtsa Rap, then you would be likely to think that there's too much Pop in this one to really enjoy.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Laffy Taffy
3 What Can U Do
5 Do It Like Me Baby
6 Front Street
8 Betcha Can't Do It Like Me
9 I'm Da Man
10 Diggin' Me
11 Get Real Low
12 Make It Rain - D4L & 2 Short/Sweets/Kool Ace
13 Shittin' Me
14 Game Owe Me - D4L & Kool Ace