fieldmob.jpgRespect has been hard to come by for Field Mob. Even with a hit single like 2002’s “Sick of Being Lonely,” Shawn Jay and Smoke can’t seem to shake the misperception of being just another countrified rap group. Now backed by Ludacris, the Albany, Ga., natives are ready to change all that with their DTP debut, Light Poles and Pine Trees, and prove they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Field Mob gets right down to business on the South Georgia area code anthem “229.” Over producer CKAY1’s swirling sirens and frantic scratches, Shawn confidently spits, “I don’t care what you think, I don’t care what you say/Leader of the New South, Shawn Jay!” Smoke exudes equal confidence on the guitar-heavy “It’s Over,” as he chimes in, “It’s ’cause we country that we under-appreciated/I ain’t arrogant, I ain’t conceited.”

The two continue to shine on their respective solo cuts. Inspired by Kelis’ 1999 hit “Caught Out There,” Shawn vents about his baby-mama drama on the rock-influenced “I Hate You So Much.” Not to be outdone, Smoke flexes his lyrical muscle on “Blacker the Berry.” Supported by a 2Pac vocal snip, Smoke retraces his childhood issues dealing with skin color (“They said I was so black that I sweat coffee/Nobody would touch me/No girlfriends ’cause shorties thought I was ugly”).

While Field Mob makes a point to raise the bar lyrically, they do stumble at times. Take the Jazze Pha–produced lead single, “So What” featuring Ciara, which comes off like a cheesy dance track. And although the raucous “Baby Bend Over” should get the tip drills in a 90-degree angle, the whisper flow has been beaten to death already. But with infectious records like “At the Park” and “Smilin’,” the Mob’s quest for respect is not lost as they make a smooth transition from “ashy to classy to classic.”—MARK ALLWOOD