slimthugbho.jpgMaybe Slim Thug was a bit presumptuous when he named his 2005 debut Already Platinum, which stalled out just shy of gold. Despite missing his projected numbers, Thugga still succeeded in making a name for himself outside of Houston. Now, with Serve & Collect, the towering MC wants to do the same for his homies Boss Hogg Outlawz. While most will be quick to write the project off as just another crew compilation, PJ, Sir Daily, Chris Ward, Killa Kyleon, J-Dawg and Young Black show they too can shine for the Lone Star State.

Slim kicks things off with the hypnotic solo “We Boss Hoggin’,” where he injects some H-Town swag into Pac’s 1994 track “Str8 Ballin’.” The Hoggs take the mic from there and run with it. Standout cuts include the stunting “Recognize a Playa” and the car-show anthem “Wood Wheel,” both produced by veteran Southern beatsmith Mr. Lee. Having no qualms about speaking on their past, PJ and Kyleon candidly depict the highs and lows of the drug game on their respective solo tracks, “It’s That PJ” and “Badge on My Neck.” Not to be outshined, Young Black goes for his on the poignant “I Gotta Get It,” spittin’, “Lord, forgive me for sinnin’, and, mama, I know you hurt/But these bills keep coming and you outta work.”

The sore thumb of the bunch winds up being the animated J-Dawg, whose lyrics, at times, fall short of their intended target. On the Slim-featured “Ride on 4’s,” Dawg confesses, “No destination, nigga, just ridin’.” The album’s other noticeable snag is the inclusion of singer Rob Smallz’ “Cheating,” an R&B-powered ode to scandalous exes that doesn’t mesh with the rest of the candy-coated cuts. These brief lows aside, the Hoggs show and prove that they don’t need to be babysat by Slim to make good music and that there’s a new crew of bosses in H-Town. —MICHAEL HARRIS