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6 May, 2009@2:06 am

A few years ago, the phrase “Free Pimp C” was heard on numerous Southern rap songs and found on hundreds of bootleg t-shirts in the region, but today, it’s been altered to “R.I.P. Pimp C”, as the rapper was found dead in a hotel room, just under two years ago. Overdosing on a cough syrup – a substance Pimp C was known to drink recreationally – he and Bun B were halfway through recording this LP before his death. Hauntingly, the album begins with the voice of Pimp C saying “Back from the dead….we still U.G.K. for life.”

Posthumous albums like this one always have the problem of not being seen through to completion as the artist fully intended, and after the success and equal critical acclaim of their last album, Underground Kingz, it’s understood that this would simply not be as strong. After all, the group saw their biggest single ever with the Outkast featured “International Players Anthem”, and had an LP that lived up to the strength of it’s single. But without Pimp C to complete this LP, it does feel somewhat unfinished at times.

It opens with the abrasively funky “Still On The Grind”, driven by a soulful hook from Raheem DeVaughn, obviously being one of the best tracks from these recording sessions. “Feelin’ You” is another well executed joint, featuring Pimp C in flexing his falsetto skills, while Bun B bounces effortlessly on top the track. Later we find some of the crew’s other longtime pals coming out to help flesh the record out, such as on “Steal Your Mind”, which reigns as one of the greatest player anthems ever, featuring both Snoop and Too Short over the sleaziest of guitar licks. Meanwhile, “Used To Be” is a rags-to-riches anthem featuring a welcome return for Eightball and MJG, and Bay representation from E-40 and B-Legit.

However, with Pimp C’s passing, there seems to be a wealth of songs here that may have instead ended up in the vaults, if Pimp were here to see it through to completion. For instance, “Everybody Wanna Ball”  opens with yet another play on the usual Pimp C line of “Smokin’ out, hoin’ up, puttin’ dick up in your slut!”, which has been used to death throughout the extent of his career. Songs like “Harry Asshole” find Pimp along with Lil’ Boosie and Webbie, in ultra-descriptive mode of a girl with a, you guessed it, do we really even need to continue? While a furry anus might be some guys’ idea of a good time, not this to critic. Another misstep is the Akon featured “Hard As Hell”, which features the soft-spoken singer waxing poetically about a very special girl “bendin’ over, spreadin’ eagle, all that ass in my faaaaace.” Despite the fact that this song sticks out like a sore thumb with Akon’s soft, adult contemporary radio approach, we’re not sure U.G.K. is going to win any Top 40 spins with such an up close and personal look at a stripper’s naughty parts. Epic fail.

The album closes as it opens, with the haunting “Da Game Been Good To Me”. Here, we find Pimp C ragging on washed up rappers that tried to go pop and failed, in a tale we’ve heard time and time again, over a mix of Spanish and spaghetti western guitars. The song takes on a whole different meaning in lieu of Pimp C’s death, however, and raises some questions. Had the game been good to him? He never became a rich, P. Diddy level rapper, and according to his lyrics, he moonlighted as a pimp on the block and on the ‘net. He was arrested on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge, and died alone in a hotel room of a recreational cough syrup overdose. Had the game really been that good to him? While some might not see this as a path they would chose for their own lives, this was the life of Pimp C, a life he was completely content with, the life of an Underground King. Rest in peace. – Pizzo

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