Loon.jpgAs one of Diddy’s numerous wingmen and ghostwriters, Chauncey “Loon” Hawkins was supposed to be a Bad Boy for life. However, when Loon’s self-titled 2003 debut flopped, he decided to part ways with Puff to take a stab at being a CEO of his own indie label, Boss Up Entertainment. Ready to reestablish himself as more than a playboy rapper, the Harlem-bred MC adopts a more aggressive approach for his sophomore set, No Friends.

Loon unveils his newfound appreciation for gruff lyrics on the SenJay and Nasi–produced “Run.” Over dramatic strings and punctuating cymbals, he derides snitches, threatens violence and name-drops legendary street hustlers before delivering a catchy sing-along hook. After detailing his street credibility on the haunting “Mobb Style,” Loon uses the sharp strings of “Live or Die” as a platform to address his detractors head-on (“Niggas think I’m a ladies’ man/Yeah, I love the ladies, but baby, when that 3-80 blam/You gon’ be stretched out/Niggas gonna think I’m crazy, man”).

Despite displaying a few potent warning shots, not all of Loon’s cocky boasts hit their mark. Both the name-dropping “Eyes on U” and the East Indian--–influenced “Belly Dance” are trite ditties that lack any lyrical charisma or sonic substance. Even his Ma$e diss, “NOVA/What Happened to Pastor?” contains corny, juvenile ad-libs like, “Fuck you very much. I appreciate you from the bottom of my fart.”

Although Loon tends to shun Diddy for making him “pretty,” he still sounds most comfortable catering to the fairer sex. He plays the wounded boyfriend well on the slick banjo-backed “Distracted,” and is effortlessly charming on the Midi Mafia–produced “Baby, Ya Buggin’” (“I’m no longer a Bad Boy, figured I boss now/Went and got a big check, figured we floss now/Toss some change on the coast of Spain/Or just toast champagne”). While No Friends has its fair share of highs and lows, it still shows that Diddy ain’t the only one that can’t stop and won’t stop.—THOMAS GOLIANOPOULOS