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Juvenile, Mardi Gras

As his next album, Rejuvination, still sits in limbo, Juvenile doesn’t want to put a halt on his celebration, as he serves up his Mardi Gras mixtape. With Mannie Fresh handling some of the production and old friends Wacko and Skip along for a handful of features, the tape seems to be Juvie’s attempt to recapture some of the elements of his mid-career success.

The undeniable highpoint of the release comes early on, as Rick Ross joins the New Orleans rapper on the Mannie Fresh-crafted “Power.” The militant joint shows that Juvenile is able to hold his own while riding alongside one of the hottest in the game, and reminds of some of the magic that Juve and Mannie captured during their Cash Money days. From there, though, things tumble into a slight decline.

Juvenile’s presence on record is still admirable, as his Magnolia-infused sound is natural and comfortable as ever. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Skip and Wacko, whose bars grace four of the ten tracks of any substantial length (there are 13 total, but the others are an intro, outro, and skit). The female hook on “Take My Breath” is unsettling on the ears, while cuts like “Sip Champagne” and “Ya Slepping On Me” are worn out concepts that could potentially be saved by some flair, but aren’t.

With Mardi Gras, Juvenile demonstrates that he hasn’t lost the traits that once made him a star, he just can’t seem to put them all together consistently. When he does, though, the results are still stellar. There’s enough redeeming about the tape to make the Rejuvination release still one worth anticipating. —Adam Fleischer

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