The Shop Boyz are a rare breed of artist who claim that their purpose in this album was to create "Rock versus pop; versus rap; versus accepted social behaviour", which they did. The music they create is rapcore, but not how it is usually done this white artists taking influence from rap, these are a group of black men from Atlanta, Georgia who all met randomly in a record store and happened to have similar interest in music and started this group, The Shop Boyz consist of: Demetrius "Meanie" Hardin, Richard "Fat" Stevens, Rasheed "Sheed" Hightower, as well as producer Richard "Fire" Harris. David Banner also produces for this debut album for them.
The influence of Marilyn Manson, Travis Barker and The Red Hot Chili Peppers can be easily heard as well as the regional sub-genre of Dirty South. The Shop Boyz use most of the styles heard in Southern Hip Hop music including crunk, snap music and nu-metal.
I say their genre is rapcore but they call it "Hood Rock" which I would say does fit well and is a decent enough description for them. The main feature of this group is that they play their guitars to bassy crunk sounds, creating what we here today. Their style is origianl as they rap with lyrics which have nothing to do with what others would, for example they would rap about a particula topic they find interesting, such as Russian history, random, but that's what makes them unique.
1. Party Like a Rockstar
The track "Party Like a Rockstar" is gained the Shop Boyz their fame with its style different to what is usually seen in the world of Hip Hop.
I have thought that by judging by the title, they were going for the way Hip hop is evolving with the Neptunes and that culture revolving around Pharrell with Bape and Ice Cream attire. I thought this because the whole 'Rockstar' image in black eyes was emerging from the skateboard influenced lifestyle, however it wasn't like that. The Shop Boyz were another branch of this, more connected to rock music than The Neptunes.
This is a hardcore crunk track with the guitar riffs making it original compared to what Lil' Jon comes out with. The track is about what life is like whilst in pursiut of living the life of successful rockstars, being able to splurge on whateer they desire.
This was a hit in the clubs as it catapulted to the number 2 spot of the Billboard Charts immediately, it also inevitably manged to top the rap charts in its peak position. It was a great decision to put this first in the LP as it is very well-known and so the Shop Boyz are immediately able to connect with their fans.
2. Bowen Homes
This another style added to their arsenal, this is has a Houston sound with the screwed and chopped feel. The track is very slow like how they do it in that city, with all of the word slowed-down and screwed up to make a new sound. Here they show how they can mix up thier style in order to suit what people like all over the South of America.
I enjoy listening to the sound of artist from here such as Pall Wall, Slim Thug and Mike Jones, the Shop Boyz version of doing this is effective although it isn't tottlaly original as I had hoped to hear from them.
3. Baby Girl
This is quite a short track as it is ten seconds short of three minutes. It begins with a guitar melody, which gets you into a summer mood (evidently like what the Red Hot Chili peppers produce) before breaking down into a a beat which is very obviously from Atlanta, due to its forcable finger-snapping beat. This however cannot be directly associated with the snap rap such as Dem Franchize Boyz, Jibbs and D4L as it isn't a club track like they would produce (inevitably resulting in a dance move being connceted to it), it is more sofisticated than that. This does make it very different to the sound of Soulja Boy, Dude & Nem and Crime Mob who also primarily perform in the snap style, although it is evident that this is simply an alterantion to this and does take influence from that.
The lyrics are centred around the desire to get with a girl. The many tactics to woo her are heard here and the various attempt are all subtle chat-up lines from the crew .
4. They Like Me
This was the second release to come off this album and the beat was made by producer and rapper, David Banner. This has a good beat to it which I can claim to be somewhat like T.I.'s "Rubberband Man". The beat is more like one hich Jazze Pha would produce but i did like it. The track seemed to go away from this "Hood Rock" theme but, it still had an original sound to it.
This track is a nice one for the clubs as its beats are hard-hittingalthough they do not have them same impact as their first single. I would have thought that for the second single htey should keep up their gimmick of providing a rock feel but they don't. This makes me wnader whetther they will be able to maintain this in the future, they should have released something like "World On Fire" because it does have that unique-ness they are trying to show their possess.
5. Next To Me
The beat in this one is extremly similar to OuKast's "So Fresh and Clean" which was a very laid-back track which the smooth vocals from Sleepy Brown of The Dungeon Family, which André 3000 and Big Boi stem from. The hook has three soft beats followed by a hard one to show a strong contrast which is very likable. The lyrics are rather predictable, yet not annoying, as they are about attempt to get close to a woman. The tempo is rather slow and so this does reflect the atmosphere which they are attempting create with their music in this particular track.
I enjoyed this track about relationships, in which the chorus features an artist who sounds almost indectical to Nate Dogg. The way in which this group deliver the lyrcs is nice as it feels very natural, unlike other who may have gone out too far in excitement for their first album's release.
The intial impact on me from this was surprise as the song was a an obviuos attemt of Rockabilly, to which an obscure similarity can associate this which Ludacirs' "Potion" not because of the rock influence, but because of the delivery of the lyrics because they are as African chants which have call-and-response as a main feature.
This is an original way of making a track about driving a car. As many rappers talk about the numerous customizations which they have made to thier whips, the Shop Boyz do not break this tradition however it has a strong country twist to it and directly sounds as if it would be heard in trailor parks by hillbillies. This definately shows the influence of the music from this region in America as it has heavy Memphis sound to it.
It is a humourous interpretation about how to express the excitment of ridng a new car, but it isn't quite what I'd like to hear. I would have expected a slower, laid-back track, but to my surprise it was a very fast-paced track as if they had robbed a car and were speeding across the back-country from the, people the car was stolen from. It is like dead prez's "Hell Yeah" in which this is actually true.
7. Rockstar Mentality
This is obviously where the name of the LP came from and it does completely show what the Shop Boyz are all about, it is unlike what it expected from them .
The track is quite original in that it doesn't quite fit in anywhere, in terms of the style. The beat is very jumpy, these fluxuations in tone are odd but they go together well with the rap.
I'd say this does fit in more with the rap category and this opposite to what the lyrics are made up of. The raps are about having the head of rockstar wanting, to drink and party all of the time.
I can't say that I enjoyed this as it is very amateur-ish, I say this because of the message they are sending as they rap about all the money the have made. I find lyrics consentrating on this to be immature as we know that they will have money and we don't have to know about this. The Shop Boyz show off in this one telling about their big spends since gaining fame such as the multiple chains, big cars with the even bigger rims on the wheels and newst gadgets.
A technique which is often used amongst groups in and around this area of America is by repeating lyrics by other artist. I do not like this because it takes way from the effort of another to write their own material with is soon taken and used fom the gain of themselves.
The beat isn't reall memorable either so I can say that there is little going for this one.
9. Totally Dude
This track is about their catch-phrase which they usesignificantly, it is most notibly audible during "Party Like A Rockstar" in with it features as part of the hook.
Here they use a phrase I believe came from the surfers in Caifornia and now they claim is to be exclaimed in the clubs everytime their songs hit the ears of the party-goers. It is questionable to whether the track does actually have that sort of impact on the audience as that phrases usage has phased out, however they could potentailly come back and be as common as Lil' Jon's "Yeah" or "What" exclaimations whcih can be heard in many Dirty South tracks.
This is much like the first track off the album in that it is a great one for the clubs wit its strong crunk bass, alongwith the great hook of the electric guitar.
10. Showin' Me Love
This is more of a rock track as the hook is made up of a riff from an electic guitar, percussion is added to increase the sharpness of the hit. Many aspects of it do indicate some Hip hop elements such as bringing up the beat whilst the rapper delivers a line to devastaing effect, this is done so tha tthe menaing of the lyrics are not lost in the beat, they are made to stand well out.
The "Hood Rock" feel is definately what you can hear on this track as the music has a great bond between the two very different music styles. This contrast works in well as they have similar roots and so it is natural for them to come together well.
11. My Car
This sounds as any regular tune coming out of the Dirty South as it has a hard beat with lyrics about their cars. I share my opinion about the lyrics here with what is found in "Flexin'" in that they shouldn't feel that they have to say they have lots of money.
I'd say that I enjoyed this more that the one I previously mentioned because the beat is much more enjoyable, it has whistling sounds and hard kicks that are nice to the ear. This track can be put inot the say category as the first track as it is a rap with some small rock references.
12. Sumthin' to Talk About
This is another nice track which is good as the album startinh to wind down. This is one of the more slow songs as we head towards the end of the album. The wind down isn't really effective because the next track was harder than this one.
The lyrics are very new to along with this genre and so it is a nice good start or something original.
13. World On Fire
To finish off this album, the Shop Boyz give us an obviuos fusion of rock and rap, these styles work well to compliment eachother well as they strongly contrast. I'd say that the rcok style does over-power and the decision to do this for the final song is good as it leaves the listeners last memory of the track to be a Hip Hop influenced rock track rather than it being the other way around because this is style which the group are trying to show they are, "Hood Rock".
This track is again somewhat like the first song on the album as it is a good one for the clubs which, the heavy bassline throughout that does play a huge part of the beat.
I hoped to hear the remix of "Party Like A Rockstar" featuring Lil' Wayne, Jim Jones and Chamillionaire to appear as a bonus track as with the added star power it would be likely to get more sales, as they are allready established artists amongst the Hip Hop community. I preferred it much more than the original so it was a dissappointment not to hear it but it is something I can live without.
This was a good album and a good breakthout for some new-comers. I feel as if the "Hood Rock" style which is the term they coined was only a gimmick. It is my opinion that they will start to go off this eventually, falling victim to the mainsteam in what is popular. I don't think that they have opened the pathway to any other groups like this because I doubt that there is another like this. I also feel that no other could get close to producing a track such as "Party Like A Rockstar".I won't say that it isn't possible for this to continue however I believe it will be unlikely.
I can say that I did enjoy this album and there was a lot going on here to like. I do feel that it isn't likely that someone into rock will like this but, anybody into the Dirty South rap and Crunk in particular will enjoy this.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Party Like A Rockstar
2 Bowen Homes
3 Baby Girl
4 Like Me
5 Next To Me
7 Rockstar Mentality
9 Paper (MONEY)
10 Totally Dude
11 Showin' Me Love
12 My Car
13 Sumthin' To Talk 'Bout
14 World On Fire