Artists hate being ignored. Just ask Bubba Sparxxx. In 2003, the Georgia boy poured his heart and soul into his creatively daring sophomore disc, Deliverance, which successfully married hip-hop and country music. Despite the album’s critical acclaim and a cosign from Timbaland, barely 350,000 consumers bothered to pay attention. Now backed by OutKast’s Big Boi, Bubba continues his search for a larger audience with his third swing at success, The Charm.
While its predecessor was a cohesive and consistent gem, Bubba’s latest collection is more of a hit-or-miss situation. Despite solid storytelling throughout, songs like “Run Away” and “Gotta Girl,” with their sappy guitars and saccharine vocals, sound more like Cowboy Troy outtakes. Once an innovator, Sparxxx now buys into Mr. Collipark’s intimate club scam with “Ms. New Booty,” an unnecessary rehash of the Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song)” and David Banner’s “Play.”
On the other end of the spectrum, however, is a score of vastly superior songs. Take “The Other Side,” a rich collaboration with Petey Pablo that exemplifies Bubba at his best with articulate verses, a catchy, singsongy hook and a funky but distinctly countrified beat. Similarly, “Represent” finds the New South soldier riding Tim’s sparse track and candidly reflecting on his tumultuous career with, “I been a star, my name rings bells/But it means not a thing if you can’t bring sales.”
While his frustrations with “the machine” are clear on the lyrical résumé “Fluke” and the self-gratifying “Hey,” Bubba eventually manages to find his comfort zone on “Wonderful.” Laying his Southern drawl over Organized Noize’s bouncy drums, he spits, “I’m in a good place/I got this thing whooped/I’m cooking with grease/You suckas can’t look/They disgusted, and it baffles me/I’m rappin’ happily again, you should be glad for me.” Although The Charm doesn’t get Bubba over the commercial hump, it does provide further proof as to why the man shouldn’t be ignored.—NOAH CALLAHAN-BEVER