oy is a rarely summoned emotion in rap. And Pimp C, one-half of South Texas gutter-sunset bards UGK, isn’t exactly a proponent of unfettered bliss. Even when he wore a purple varsity jacket emblazoned with “Drank University” in his partner Bun-B’s “Get Throwed” music video, he tempered his South Texas swagger with slurred threats. Like few others of his talent, though, Pimp C has the street resume to back up his grizzled gangster dandy act.
Take his recent incarceration, for instance. After falling behind in his community service for a prior gun charge, Pimp went to jail for real. Only released from the pen late last year, Pimp C charges out of his cell with pockets stuffed with comrades (Trae, Chamillionaire, and Slim Thug all punch their respective clocks in guest appearances) and handfuls of recycled Ridin’ Dirty tropes: bitches can’t be trusted, hi-hats are to be abused, and work simply has to keep moving. At its best, Pimpalation, his second solo album and first post-incarceration disc, smells like a stanky great uncle to refined, label-shaped hunks of dank—Trill, Thug Matrimony, Urban Legend. Pimp C never raps alone, each song is Mason-Dixon-meeting—an eager Jody Breeze splitting time with Jazzie Pha, a reclusive Chamillionaire divvying up bars with Trae.
Pimpalation has too many boring stretches to be truly memorable, yet too many serpentine corner narratives—“Rock 4 Rock” and its caustic Geto Boys (!) turns—to be disposable. Suddenly discerning, Pimp C beseeches rappers to “turn that monkey-ass record off / You embarrassin’ us.” The quiet pangs of responsibility don’t crop up often, if only because Pimpalation mostly bullies with a loose limbed, stringy sense of energy.
Pimp C’s rehashed (about half of the album’s hooks are jacked from Ridin’ Dirty verses) and good-natured taunts (“I see ya’ lips quivering but I don’t hear nothin’”) struggle against the album’s pithy stretches—the garbled “The Honey” to a grinding “Get Ya Mind Right.” But as soon as the album gets any force behind it, it’s sundered by cranky, acrid sex-jams (“Cheat on Ya Man”) or drawn out block parties.
No one expects Pimp to craft a truly lasting solo disc—eyes are looking to 2007 and the reported UGK reunion album. Pimpalation only really gives Pimp C one solo playground anyway. It’s there, on the Tom Petty-sampling “Free,” that we see him preaching the most important universal truth he’s learned thus far: “But I still don't believe the pen is no place for no man!”
Reviewed by: Evan McGarvey
Reviewed on: 2006-09-19