They say it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Well, Dem Franchize Boyz aren’t saying anything new, nor are they saying it any differently than most Southern rappers. But their sophomore outing, On Top of Our Game, remains afloat thanks to modestly catchy hooks and groovy beats.

Jessica Boullion

The four-man crew (Jizzal Man, Parlae, Pimpin and Buddie) from the west side of Atlanta might not be familiar, but you’ve probably heard “White Tee” from their self-titled debut. Lyrically, the group hasn’t grown much since their original 2004 release, but they did hook up with Jermaine Dupri. Now, JD might be a lesser-known, less-wealthy, shorter version of Diddy – but he’s always been able to sell records (Mariah didn’t perform that comeback all by herself). So when Dupri remixed a little-known track from their debut and added a couple of So So Def artists, the result was a No. 1 spot on the R&B/hip-hop singles chart. The song is titled “I Think They Like Me (So So Def Remix),” featuring Bow Wow and Da Brat. Spunky horns and an easily repeatable hook make for a great anthem song.

The Boyz try for that catchy anthem on nearly all of the album’s 12 tracks, which leads to extreme repetition. On one song they’re shouting, “Bitch stop callin’ me (bitch stop callin’ me), / I ain’t gon’ pick the phone the up (I ain’t gon pick the phone up),” and a few tracks later they’re chanting, “Bitch don’t play wit me (bitch don’t play wit me), / I ain’t the one to fuck wit (I ain’t the one to fuck wit).” Wow.

Songs such as the slower, meaningful “Give Props” help round out the album. On this particular track, the boys reminisce about their struggle to establish themselves in the music industry, and, while hardly groundbreaking, it’s quite refreshing given the rest of the album’s tired concepts.

Regardless of obvious shortcomings, Dem Franchize Boyz have another legitimate hit single with “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It.” It falls under the newly invented category of snap music (think of the annoying “Laffy Taffy”), which is becoming very popular. “Lean Wit It” includes a woozy whistle-over, and, well, a snappy beat. Plus, the instructive music video shows exactly how to “lean” and “rock” wit’ it.

On Top of Our Game never gets past trite concepts like easy women and glossy jewelry. The gang clearly tries too hard to turn every chorus into something chantable and fails. There is effort here, as well as some decent production. And there’s a hidden bonus track, too: “Yup, in my white tee.”

Dem Franchize Boyz
On Top of Our Game
So So Def

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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