c_murder.jpgAfter reverting to his government name to shake the shady connotation that an alias like “C-Murder” carries, Corey Miller has once again reclaimed his menacing moniker. While awaiting re-trial for second-degree murder charges, the N’awlins boy recorded Screamin’ 4 Vengeance, his first full-length as a free man in five years. Not giving a fuck about appeasing anyone anymore, C constructs a morbidly dark diary of a man devolving into a haze of bullet and blunt smoke, as he faces the likely loss of his freedom permanently.

Personal struggle has a way of making for compelling music, and Vengeance boasts a handful of noteworthy synth-laden, 808-powered street scriptures. Baton Rouge beatsmith 2Saint helms half of the album, providing bullying brass stabs for the Max Minelli–assisted hustlin’ ode “Freeze (Ice Man)” and a surprisingly satisfying gothic arrangement of ominous piano chords and choral chants for “I Represent.” The most sinister creation by far, though, is the Pimp C–guested “Can’t Stop Me,” where Murder flips the bird to the po-po (“Extended clip, my finger burnin’ from residue/Fuck the Jakes, ’cause muthafuckin’ yeah, I keeps it true”).

Unfortunately, Murder Man’s often-sleepy delivery and scattershot ramblings regarding all things hood are also his biggest handicap. His microphone deficiencies become even more glaring when his backdrops worsen. On the droopy lead single, “Posted on Tha Block,” C nonsensically spits, “Yeah, I’m fresh out, but I’m out fresh ’cause life’s a test,” before proclaiming, “The state railroad ya boy, ’cause I’ma violent man,” completely unaware of the ign’ant irony. Equally misguided is C’s first-person narrative of a fatal club fight, “Murda Man Dance,” which eerily parallels the very crime he’s accused of.

In addition to the questionable subject matter, Mr. Miller displays a considerable amount of immaturity with the juvenile “U Pussy” and the painful ballad “Now That U Back.” Although C-Murder’s street cred is undeniable, his latest merely offers up a lot of screamin’ and leaves little room for any true vengeance. —PAUL W. ARNOLD