Silkk the Shocker
Based on a True Story
t might seem silly to even be talking about Silkk the Shocker at this point. The rapper has always been a Southern invention and, for the most part, the provenance of that region. It was when his first two albums went platinum without any help from major media outlets, though, that people began to pay attention and to the rest of the No Limit contingent.
And for a short time the label found national recognition and acceptance. And then, as quickly as it came, the bottom dropped out. You can gauge their decline by simply going to a used record store today, where you’ll no doubt find the remnants of the strictly national era of No Limit.
But, by now, Master P and friends have all moved on from that. Outside producers have infiltrated and transformed the Dirty South sound beyond recognition and, perhaps more shockingly, Silkk and others have matured their rhymes.
Sure, it only took nearly eight years for Silkk to examine subjects outside of the typical gangsta clichés that detractors constantly hold up as proof of the genre’s moral worthlessness. But comparatively, some of the topics covered are positively revelatory: pulling yourself up by your bootstraps (“Why You Mad”), his mother (“Be There”) and self-instrospection (“That’s Just Me”).
Could it be a subtle play at more wide-ranging mainstream acceptance? Doubtful. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone outside of the South rushing out to find the new album by Silkk. But it is an encouraging sign for the future of his (national) career, if he chooses to go down this path. There are few rappers with a willingness towards tearing down the stereotypes leveled at Southern rappers for being lesser cousins to their more able word slingers on the East and West coasts.
To add to this, the sound has broadened considerably: the first single is “We Like Them Girls”, a Lil Jon produced number, and “Be There” samples Spandau Ballet. But for every interesting change, there is an equally disappointing drum machine on autopilot antitode.
Sadly, despite the fact that the pen and pixel has gone, Based on a True Story has a lot of the same problems that its older counterparts did. The album comes in at a, still fat, 52 minutes and, more often than not, an adherence to the clichés that work (anger and hate towards anyone unlike himself) is gladly used to minimal effect.
Based on a True Story is an unquestionable move forward from the past of No Limit Records. Despite this, the miniscule changes that hardly litter the record see the label again at a crossroads of maintaining underground cred and striving for artistic viability. David Banner he’s not. But he’s a step up from his brother.