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Mike Jones
Who Is Mike Jones?

Swishahouse / Asylum / Warner Bros.

ou never get a second chance to make a first impression. And while, technically, Who Is Mike Jones? is hardly Mike Jones’ first impression (he has had multiple mixtapes and indie releases via Swishahouse), “Back Then” is still going to be Mike Jones introduction for most listeners, outside of the brilliant “Still Tippin’” single. And what an introduction it is: much like Jones himself it’s an entertainingly naïve, indignant, and jealous document that helps one to immediately cotton to Jones. Who is Mike Jones? Just listen to “Back Then.”

The chorus is simple, much like Jones’ flow: “Back then hoes didn’t want me / Now I’m hot hoes all on me.” The verse that follows lays the problem out more extensively, bemoaning the fact that he’s exactly the same as he was before he was in the game. But now that he is, all the ladies want him. And then he gives out his phone number, just in case you want to be one of those hoes too. In fact, throughout the song Jones never seems to really know exactly what he wants. Eventually, it comes out like resignation. He understands that he’d never get those hoes otherwise, so…why not take advantage while they do? It’s this sort of contradiction that helps make Jones an interesting listen, even if his mic skills do everything to sabotage it.

Those mic skills come into play on the aforementioned “Still Tippin’,” wherein Jones ruins the inexorable momentum of the track by repeating the chorus to “Back Then” no less than four times at the end of his verse. It hardly bears mentioning, but he’s easily overshadowed by Slim Thug and Paul Wall here.

“Got It Sewed Up” follows, giving Jones a chance to redeem himself and he delivers, aside from the end of the second verse when he once again awkwardly inserts his phone number into the song. Thankfully, the production frequently makes up for the lapses in lyrical prowess: “Know What I’m Sayin’” is a carousel-like MIDI horn fest, “Cuttin’” features a yodeling sample in the background of an upbeat organ-led track, and “Laws Patrolling” is an eerie track built for a screwed and chopped version.

Luckily, it’s immediately available on a limited edition two-disc version of the album which features screwed and chopped mixes of nearly all of the tracks. It’s a recommended pick-up, as tracks like “Grandma,” “Scandalous Hoes,” and “5 Years From Now” take on completely different resonances that otherwise might have never been uncovered.

While Jones seems to be getting a great deal of attention for “Still Tippin’,” it seems obvious throughout that this album may just be the tipping point: if all goes well, Paul Wall and Slim Thug presumably will get the major label push that Jones is getting in the future. For their sake, one hopes Jones does well, if only to highlight their superior talents in the future.

Reviewed by: Todd Burns

Reviewed on: 2005-04-27

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