Lil Scrappy
The Grustle
(Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam)

Beats: XL

Lyrics: L

Originality:L

Lil Scrappy has switched his hip-hop allegiance quite a few times in his young career. After first getting on with Lil Jon’s BME Clique in 2004, the Atlanta rapper had a brief stint with 50 Cent’s G-Unit for his first solo effort (Bred 2 Die Born 2 Live), in 2006, then went indie with his second LP (Prince of the South), but now reps with Ludacris’s Disturbing Tha Peace crew. On this third solo album, The Grustle, an ode to the rapper’s grind and hustle, Scrappy proves that, after years of being about his business his loyalties ultimately lie with one thing—money.

The album’s aptly titled lead single, “Addicted 2 Money,” which is produced by the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, sets the tone, as Scrap shares his thirst for paper with Luda over a menacing track fitted with a chopped-and-screwed hook that recalls his 2006 hit “Money in the Bank.” Cash is wisely doled out on effective big-name features, such as the Gucci Mane–assisted “Look Like This” and the syrupy, radio-ready “Thug It to the Bone,” featuring Trey Songz. Scrappy also gets quality bang for his production buck on the soul-drenched, Don Cannon–laced “Ya Dig” and the Runners-produced block burner “I’m Postin’.”

On the flip side, listeners may feel shortchanged by the overstated subject matter on cuts like “Expensive,” “Big Boy Talking” and “Money.” Sadly, the self-proclaimed Prince of the South rarely switches the topic from monetary gain, but when he does, he wins. On the sinister “Stand Up,” featuring Maino, Scrappy addresses how he handles adversity: “Take hating like Christ took nails/Put my middle finger up, like, Man, go to hell.”

Given his new affiliation, Scrappy’s latest effort makes it seem as though things are greener on the other side. What remains to be seen is whether he’ll get his money’s worth. —Rondell Conway