buck.jpgThings just ain’t the same for the Guerilla Unit. With Mobb Deep’s all-too-quiet storm having passed and Lloyd Banks’ buzz nearly nonexistent, the once-unstoppable G-Unit seems in need of a Teflon talent. Thankfully for 50’s sake, hip-hop’s Southern heat wave is still holding strong. Reenter Young Buck, the only one in the crew that the haters seem to show love to. Teaming with foolproof DJ Drama, the G-man looks to buck skeptics with Welcome to the Traphouse.

Clearly, Buck doesn’t feel the heat. “Do you think if that nigga Biggie was still here, do you think that nigga’d be hollering ‘G-Unit’?” he wonders on the subdued “Cmon.” As cocksure as ever, the Cashville, Tennakee, soldier coasts above the menacing guitars of “Rap Money” in card-pulling fashion (“Most rappers is broke, got a platinum plaque and still trafficking coke/The royalty checks, they don’t come too quick/So fuck getting a deal, nigga, go and get a brick”). Pulling few punches, Buck’s abrasive real talk permeates throughout, darkening the gunshot-heavy “Prepare for War” and the bluesy “Thuggin’ Till My Death Date.”

If Banks is their celebrated mixtape messiah, then Buck remains the Unit’s prophet of thug passion. Able to inject clear conviction through his gruff drawl, Y-B is at his best when he gets to analyzing, particularly in the horn-driven “All By Myself.” For the soul-drenched “Heavenly Father,” he blesses the emotive keys with poignancy (“When the gangsta look the devil in his face/Demons get to tellin’ him that he can be erased/ Mentally they got us, but physically we strong/If every nigga learn to load a clip up on they own”).

If only fillers like the sleepy “Drink & Drive” and the poor-man’s party jam “How U Want 2 Act” were equally tender. Still, mixtapes often boast style over substance—something Buck delivers in force here. If the upcoming Buck the World mirrors this disc’s more serious fare, then 50 can breathe easy.—MATT BARONE
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86cover.jpgRead the rest of XXL’s Critical Beatdown review section in the
November 2006 issue (#86)