pastertroy.jpgPastor Troy may have helped spark the New South movement with his 1999 debut, We Ready: I Declare War, but damn if anyone gives him credit for it. After unsuccessful swims in the mainstream, most people tend to forget the Atlanta soldier was using hyperactive beats and spiritual undertones long before crunk got crunk. Staying afloat in the underground that made him, Troy now offers up Tool Muziq (changed from the controversial original title, Saddam Hussein), his latest collection of musical fury.

Troy starts off like a Black Yosemite Sam on the energetic “Saddam,” literally spittin’ lyrical bullets over Shawty Redd’s rapid-fire production (“Give me my props/Give me my rank/Bringin’ the army/I’m bringin’ the tank”). PT Cruiser keeps the lyrical barrage coming on the self-produced “I’m Down,” where he meshes rock and snap elements to create another baptism of fire. Despite the overly aggressive tone, he still finds room to show vulnerability on the bluesy, guitar-filled “Will He Come Home Tonight,” praying, “Heavenly Father, send your angels of protection/’Cause now the whole world got weapons.”

Throughout the album, the original Down South Georgia Boy proves that his strongest weapons are his passion and his pen, but both get dulled when he starts jackin’ for beats. On “No Money,” Troy borrows Makaveli’s “When We Ride on Our Enemies” track to poke fun at broke Willies. Taking another posthumous ’Pac cut, “Until the End of Time,” to pen “Hey Mama,” the Pastor writes an apology letter to his mother from jail. Then, he lifts Three 6 Mafia’s “Late Night Tip” for the pillow-talky “Wanting You,” featuring Gangsta Boo.

However, Troy finds redemption with more-original-sounding material, like the DJ Squeeky–produced “I’m Fucked Up” and the bouncy stunt fest “That’s the Move.” Even though Tool Muziq contains a couple more loose screws (the Donna Summer–inspired “Hard for the Money”), Troy still manages to hammer out another solid album. —MAURICE G. GARLAND