Young Buck has always been G-Unit's wild child, the original quartet's lone Southern rep with a flow as unpredictable and diverse as Busta Rhymes and Ol' Dirty Bastard before him. But he's also been the member of 50's record-breaking crew who has faced the most adversity over their now-decade-plus run, getting kicked out of the Unit live on Hot 97 in 2008 (with the infamous crying tape), being raided by the IRS in 2011 and heading to jail the following year on gun charges.

But Buck has been home for a minute now, G-Unit is functioning again with two new EPs in the past six months and Young Buck just dropped his second mixtape of the year, 10 Bullets. The 10-track affair is a solo effort all the way, with production handled by his in-house team and no features lending a hand. But far from that turning 10 Bullets into an extended one-note tear through the tape, it allows Buck to stretch out or tighten up depending on his mood, testing out new and more disciplined flows that allow him to show off different sides of himself when he feels like it. The result is the freshest Buck has sounded since his release from jail in October 2013.

The tape starts out strongly with the similar message of "Always Stay Strap'd," a typically catchy ode to the drug game and its various risks. But it really kicks into high gear with "Not This Time," a driving cut in which Buck is determined to rectify past mistakes and refuses to be counted out. "Like I Love Her" is decidedly outside of Buck's comfort zone both stylistically and with his cadence (though he's used to rapping about women by this point), but he rises to the occasion to deliver another track that sticks in the head. Similarly, "Dope Boy" uses an eerie backdrop to tell the tale of a dealer handling his myriad problems with family, women and groupies, not outside his comfort zone in terms of lyrical content but forcing him to use different flows that help make the song better overall.

But the real highlight of the project is "Craccin and Poppin," which sets the tone early with the beat before Buck gets as real as he can on the track. This is the Buck that sticks out and stays with you, and the one that's the most similar to his older, wilder flows. He speaks frankly on his tax troubles, heading to jail and the concerns that come with it, his thoughts about death and even references the viral video of him falling off his motorcycle in 2009 while sending a middle finger to those who doubted him along the way.

Overall, Buck sounds more fresh and revitalized than he has lately, whether it's because he's trying new things or is able to stand on his own and stretch out over 10 consecutive tracks with no other voices competing for attention. It's the first of much more to come from the G-Unit soldier throughout the rest of the year, which is another thing to look forward in an already jam-packed release calendar. —Dan Rys