What's a comedian doing releasing a Rap album? I don't know, but that's exactly what Mike Epps (famed for his worked acting in 'How High', 'Resident Evil: Apocalypse' and 'Next Friday') did late in 2009 when he dropped "Funny Bidness: Da Album" shortly before embarking on a nation-wide tour with the legendary West Coast rapper Snoop Dogg. I, personally, can't claim to be much of a fan of him or his comedy, but was intrigued by what this album could potentially offer and so had to check it out.
Kicking off his Rap career late, when edging on 40-years-old, the Indianapolis, Indiana native does more than he has in the past (with little features on releases from Group Home, Busta Rhymes and T.I. over the years) as here he goes straight with a full-length record filled with tracks where he takes the leading role in carrying the music and giving each cut a distinctive direction. Although this release didn't really ever get off the ground or receive that much attention, Hip Hop fans will be impressed by the line-up of guests that you find here. Epps shows that he's all for what's popping in current times and doesn't fall into the trap of recruiting people who are past it, and so you'll find Slim Thug, Dorrough and even Snoop Dogg on it with him. It's important to note that, unexpectedly, he doesn't actually rely on the guests though and seems to have done most of the work himself.
As Indiana doesn't really have a distinctive sound in the Hip Hop world, we find that here Epps decides to take things down a direction which seems to fit in best with his personality and so largely has things going in a party-orientated Dirty South direction. Tracks such as "Ain't Chu You" scream-out the dance-based Atlanta and Dallas Snap/Dougie/Crunk feel which comes through on a number of occasions through the release. In addition to this, he's also sure to try out other things as we get a little Bay Area Hyphy on "Big Girls", some smooth Mobb music on "Trying to be a Gangsta" and raw hardcore Rap with "Extra Gangsta" late on in the tracklist. I thought that he was really able to pull with off well and did even better than someone likes Paul Wall; who on "Fast Life" tried to tour the country musically and just couldn't get it together.
As expected, Epps includes a number of skits to fill out the release. To any fan of his comedy style, this will be appreciated greatly. However, I felt that it wasn't really all that funny and so didn't really serve any real purpose other than to give the release added length. I thought that it was a shame as what he did with the majority of the rest of the tracks was really quite strong and was bound to have the ability to draw in quite a large amount of people with its open themes and very commercial comedic elements. Clearly the raps on the album aren't going to have the same sort of quality as what you'd expect of someone more dedicated to this game, but it seemed as though the comedian uses the relative poor lyrical standards of some Southern rap to allow him to fit in without seeming like a complete flop when he does his thing over beats which no one would have problems with trying to get into.
Throughout the album we find that Mike Epps composes the tracks by setting up funny scenarios or coming up with common subject matter that you tend to get in black American comedy. Although much of this seems to have dried-up, Epps still finds great ways to play on this without sounding as weak and stereotypical as a lot of others in his field has when he comes up with these spoof rhymes and so it makes for a decent album - just one that may only really appeal to the sort of person who accepts that much of what rappers not truly in the 'hoods they claim is essentially fabricated to gain street credibility. He really does well to make himself sound sincere when presenting some of the songs when in fact he's just making fun of when rappers try to come off as emotional. This is best shown through "Baby Makin' N***a", but is also found at various other places through the "Funny Bidness" LP.
I'd say that this album is recommended, but only just. Epps does well to keep things consistent through much of it, but does slip-up when it comes to the skits and the awful collaboration with Snoop Dogg and so it seems to take away from the nice ideas that he has with the album. The lead single "Ain't Chu You" kicks this off by playing on just something that passers-by have said to him and he makes it into a Dance-Rap track and he seems to take this formula of spoofing commercial Hip Hop ideas and making them into tracks in a form that he finds more appealing.
1. "Interview" (Intro)
2. "Ain't Chu You" (feat. Young Dro, Dorrough and Nitti Beatz) **Four Stars**
3. "The B***h Won't Leave Me Alone" **Four Stars**
4. "Trying to be a Gangsta" **Two Stars**
5. "Church Pastor" (Skit)
6. "I Da Pimp" (feat. Too $hort and Slim Thug) **Three Stars**
7. "No Dial Tone" **Two Stars**
8. "Baby Makin' N***a" (feat. Flo-Rida) **Three Stars**
9. "Domestic Dispute" (feat. Snoop Dogg) **One Star**
10. "Youth Prison Programme" (Skit)
11. "Burn Hollywood" **Four Stars**
12. "If I Left It At Home" (feat. Tyler Woods) **Four Stars**
13. "Big Girls" **Four Stars**
14. "Jail Call" (Skit)
15. "Extra Gangsta" **Four Stars**
16. "I Love The Hoes" (feat. DJ Quik) **Two Stars**
17. "Gone Back To Indiana" **Two Stars**
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Interview (Skit)
2 Ain't Chu You
3 Bitch Won't Leave Me Alone
4 Trying to Be a Gangsta
5 Church Pastor (Skit)
6 I Da Pimp
7 No Dial Tone
8 Baby Makin N****
9 Domestic Dispute
10 Youth Prison Program (Skit)
11 Burn Hollywood
12 If I Left It at Home
13 Big Girls
14 Jail Call (Skit)
15 Extra Gangsta
16 I Love the Hoes
17 Gone Back to Indiana