From tha Roota to tha Toota
OutKast has set the table at which many southern rappers eat. Deftly blending energy, emotion, and intelligence into a broad catalogue of sounds, Dre and Big Boi have made it virtually impossible for new acts to escape their shadow. Field Mob’s sophomore LP, From tha Roota to tha Toota, reminds listeners of this perhaps unfortunate circumstance because the album is reminiscent of the pioneering Atlanta rap duo. However, this similarity does not compromise Roota’s merit since the album is actually quite good, and while sounding similar, Field Mob does not come close to coopting OutKast’s identity. Also, Field Mob’s emergence is a welcomed fortification of the southern rap modality countervailing the bling-bling decadence of No Limit and Cash Money.
Instead of the materialism-driven music made in Louisiana, Field Mob’s songs are about their pastoral, southern experience. They further cultivate this Dukes of Hazard-like country boy image with album artwork that depicts the Mob-Shawn Jay and Smoke-on a farm eating pork and playing checkers on a wooden crate. (In an industry which celebrates regional identity and allows shibboleths to become standard lexicon, this aspect of the album is not insignificant.) Most of the record’s tracks are energetic with frenetic keys or strings providing melodies, active drum programs providing beats, and myriad alternative sounds-alarm clocks, bongo drums-providing character. The subjects addressed are diverse, ranging from run-ins with the police to the South’s history of racism to satirically refusing to pay for sex.
Field Mob’s broad palate is important to appreciate since it showcases Shawn Jay and Smoke’s talent as writers and charisma as emcees, ones capable of being both serious and playful. Among other notable tracks, “Sick of Being Lonely,” the lead single, and “Nothing 2 Lose,” a song featuring the almost-forgotten OutKast yes man Slimm Cutta Calhoun, will delight those who cop this album. Slimm’s presence helps reinforce just how much OutKast fans will like this record, but that probably works in the Mob’s favor. Overall, fans of the real southern rap music will appreciate this LP and its pleasant sonic diversity.
Rating: 3 and 1/2 stars