White Eyes

No Limit Records

At the outset of White Eyes, Magic says that the “original formula” that he’s “conjured up” will help define the new No Limit, and the ensuing record mostly validates his claim, as Eyes is a sonic departure from most of the other music made by the No Limit soldiers and their omnipresent general, Master P. Hopefully, Magic’s record will be the first in a series of coming releases to take No Limit to new musical ground, a place far away from the tired tract in which the label’s flag has been planted for too long.

The direction Magic follows is a pleasant one, and his album contains a series of beats that are more melodic and musical than that standard keyboard tracks Master P, this release’s executive producer (of course), commonly favors. Of particular note are “Hustler,” a steady, R&B-infused assessment of Magic’s life, and “I’ll Be There,” an ode to companionship whose light-jazz melody sounds almost out of place on a No Limit album.

As Magic says, though, this is the new No Limit, and its growth is accompanied by a few developmentally appropriate obstacles. One such problem is that Eyes becomes too repetitive by its midway point, as all the songs either resemble the lighter ones previously discussed or the more standard bounce tracks like “Fire.” The maturity and variety forecasted by the record’s opening is mitigated by what becomes a fairly limited track lineup, the record’s overarching tone vacillating between two poles only. Magic would have been smarter to find middle ground or refine his new sound to the point where its repetition did not become stale.

Countering the negatives associated with some beats that can become bland is Magic’s delivery, a steady though understated flow that meshes well with the many smooth tracks on the record. On “Forgive Us” Magic’s style is especially welcomed as a contrast to the falsetto singing intentionally meant to lend the chorus an Isley-type vocal presence.

That contrivance is indicative of the album’s other major flaw: Master P seems to have simply taken other people’s ideas. In addition to the patently obvious Isley impersonation, songs like “I’ll Be There,” despite their general merit, are nearly laughable given their direct resemblance to past hit tracks. In the latter’s case, the song’s hook borrows from Nelly’s “Dilemma” in nearly embarrassing fashion. Were there more artistic intentions general promoted by No Limit, such “nods” to inspiration would not seem so disingenuous, but regardless, any sonic growth from Magic and his label mates is a welcomed change.

2 stars

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