Trick Daddy’s been running Miami so long that he seems exhausted—topically, at least. While Rick Ross exposes the underbelly of Dade County and Pitbull paints a multiculti politicized version of MIA, Trick Daddy Dollars has always made his money being the semiconscious thug. Six albums deep into a career that’s produced unruly yet surprisingly introspective material, Trick returns with his seventh disc, Back by Thug Demand, where he’s only a monochromatic paint-by-numbers shell of his former self.

Carpetbaggers and new jacks may have pushed the glamour of the 305 into the spotlight, but Trick is quick to reprimand those blinded by the neon lights. Over the Runners’ rumbling bass line for “Breaka Breaka,” he warns, “Let’s set the record straight/Nigga, I run this whole state/There’s only one mayor of Dade/And the rest of y’all my protégés.” Trick further cements his position on “Born a Thug,” a rich interpolation of 2Pac’s “Shorty Wanna Be a Thug,” and on the Mannie Fresh–produced banger “Chevy.”

Trick has always been one to overindulge, be it on women or drugs (usually both), but here his excess seems unusually forced. On “Tonight,” another raunchy duet with Trina, the duo fail to capture the flirty chemistry of their past sexploits. Supported by Jaheim’s blunt chorus, Trick goes limp with lines like, “I’ll help you get rid of back spasms and do it all without Viagra.” The clichéd ode to dro “So High” does little to arouse listeners either.

Whereas his previous efforts contained a weighty counterbalance to all the pussy and pill poppin’, Back by Thug Demand offers only glimpses into the heart of a thug. Even then, those moments are relegated to a sparse verse (“Straight Up”) or a few bars (“You Damn Right”), instead of being fleshed out into heartfelt songs of the “Thug Holiday” variety. More consumed with proving his street cred and sexual expertise, Trick takes care of all the thugs but forgets to show love to the kids. —JAYSON RODRIGUEZ


Read the rest of XXL’s Critical Beatdown review section in the XXL’s March 2007 issue (#89)