Cash Money got the band back together for Let ‘Em Burn, the misleading Hot Boys follow-up to their 1999 splash Guerilla Warfare. Burn is a legitimate Hot Boys record, as all four original members are present; however, this release is one that Cash Money Records has been sitting on since Warfare, and in the time between that release and now, B.G. left the label, Juvenile left and just recently returned and Turk went the way of Jimmy Hoffa.
Most of Burn was recorded years ago, and the chemistry that characterized Warfare is again present. Juvenile, Turk, B.G. and Lil’ Wayne all work well together, and many songs follow a standard format that allows each MC to spit a few bars before passing the mic to a compatriot. The schematic is a complimentary one for the Hot Boys because each, save for Juvenile, has a style that works well in moderation but not in heavy dosage. Thus, Wayne’s baby-voice, B.G.’s southern drawl and Turk’s matter-of-fact staccato all remain bearable, if not fresh.
Unfortunately for the Boys and Burn, also still present – though fleetingly bearable and ironically hardly fresh – are Manny Fresh’s synthesizer-and-drum-kit-driven bounce beats.
Fresh has changed his style and made the label’s sound less predictable and more diverse; yet, before that transformation, Fresh almost exclusively relied on simple drums, an active synthesizer and ornate filler sounds that created often immature melodies.
Burn sounds out of place in today’s hip-hop world, an antiquated remnant from a musical moment now concluded. While the bounce style may still interest fans in Louisiana, approval of such an aural mode has become a musical shibboleth, and Fresh’s beats likely won’t impress those outside his home state.
On the LP’s few notable songs, like the infectious “My Section,” Fresh’s beats don’t sound too old, and Hot Boys fans will easily remember the promising entrance that the Boys made. Yet, there are too few tracks of that quality and too many beats that become bland and at times annoying.