kiashine.jpgEven after the success of Hustle & Flow, newbie rappers hailing from Memphis still have a hard time gaining national attention. It’s a burden that should lie heavy on the head of Bluff City native Kia Shine. But the co-CEO of indie label Rap Hustlaz is confident about his chances. After a couple of regional hits, including last year’s boastful “Respect My Fresh,” and a hosting stint on BET’s Rap City, the M-Town rapper/producer is ready to make his national debut with Due Season.

Possessing a sleepy flow and uninspired lyrical content, Kia’s plans of putting Memphis back on the map would be in jeopardy if not for his swag and 808-stocked production. In fact, overly braggadocious tracks like the T-Mix–produced “W.O.W.” and the Jim Jones–guested “I Be Everywhere” don’t help differentiate him from any other cocksure MC of recent memory. The drowsy party dud “Touch” further hurts his campaign. Backed by a cheesy synth soundbed, he rambles, “One-night stand like a comedian/You not my girl, and me not your man.”

Despite his occasionally tiresome delivery, Kia does manage to live up to his last name at times. Enlisting living legends 8Ball & MJG for “Bluff City Classic,” a remake of the duo’s 1993 Southern anthem “Pimps,” proves eventful. Produced by Kia and his partner Jack Frost, the bluesy medley provides the rap rookie with the tools to properly rep for his city. Adapting his style to seamlessly blend with the wah-wah guitar–filled “Holla at Ya Kinfolk” results in another notable recording.

Even with a fair amount of bright spots, Kinfolk’s stagnant content makes Due Season creep along. But on the aptly titled “Swag Music,” Kia confidently defends his craft, spittin’, “Fuck a critic who critique how I spit it/’Cause/Y’all will never get it, ’cause y’all ain’t who I spit it for.” Guess it’s still hard out here for a pimp. —JACINTA HOWARD