So record that has a song that lent its name to a style of music is probably a pretty deal, right? “Dirty South” has become the name of a sub-genre of hip hop, sometimes considered synonymous with southern hip hop, sometimes not, which was a pretty big deal at some point. So I feel safe in thinking this record is probably a pretty big deal.
There was this space in the ’90s where the barriers between soul and hip hop really broke down and this is one of those records – it’s a hip hop record, sure, but there is plenty of soul, much more than on your typical mid ’90s hip hop record. And that’s great news for me, a fan of neo soul (to an extent) but not really a fan of hip hop.
People make a big deal about the lyrics and I think they’re right to. This is the kind of “conscious” hip hop I can mostly get behind, with lots of biting social comment. It gets too religious for me, at times, but I understand that it’s their perspective and, moreover, if you grow up with experiences like this, you have to turn somewhere.
The production is pretty classic southern hip hop, which makes sense given this record’s role in the evolution of the genre. It’s more soulful and grimier than east coast but way more interesting and, um, dirty, than west coast. The more hip hop I listen to the more I appreciate the production on southern hip hop records – these guys always like good music.
Oh, and the deliveries all feel distinct enough, especially Cee-Lo, who regularly breaks into song or half song. But all of them have distinct voices in a way that you don’t always get with these groups. And for me, that’s another plus, because I sometimes don’t pay enough attention to these records and miss that somebody else is rapping.
All in all an excellent hip hop record that is probably a bigger deal than I know.