huey.jpgAlthough there isn’t much fanfare surrounding it, 19 is a confusing age—old enough to serve in the military, but too young to legally drown the memories in a bottle. St. Louis rapper Huey now finds himself at this perplexing period in his life, but with the teenybopper dance hit “Pop, Lock & Drop It” under his belt, at least his career goals are less confusing. In fact, with his debut disc, Notebook Paper, the teen sensation looks to prove that age ain’t nothing but a number.

Following in the multiplatinum footsteps of STL predecessors Nelly and Chingy, Huey’s charm lies in catchy hooks. That’s evident on the anthemic “Bout Dat” and the horn-powered swag fest “Tell Me This (G5).” On the latter, Hue brags, “It’s all eyes on me, like 2Pac/26s on the drop and two Glocks/What am I?/Everything you not/Baaalliin’/Raised off them crew blocks/Interior paint, rims color coordinated/Yes, it’s blessed as if the Lord made it.”

Gotta give the kid credit for confidence, but there are times when his youth gets the best of him, especially when his braggadocio takes an overly materialistic turn. On the Laude-produced “Closet Full of Clothes,” Huey needlessly balls out of control, while “Aye” is a boisterous chest-beating track built on hollow conga drums and synths.

Huey regains his composure when he trades in his stacks for sincerity. The T-Pain–produced “Glad to Be Alive” shows that the Midwest spitter has the maturity to extend beyond bounce-happy tracks. The same can be said of the reflective “Nobody Loves the Hood.” Backed by somber piano chords, he makes the song cry with lines like, “It’s a cold-ass world, especially for males/They fillin’ up more than half of all jails/The government got the world misunderstood/I dedicate this to the ones who love the hood.” Teetering between fun-loving rapper and gangsta griot, Huey fills his notebook with enough decent material to make people wanna pop, lock and cop it. —JACINTA HOWARD