Rapping about getting high can make hit singles out of otherwise underground rappers – just ask the Luniz [click to read], Afroman or the Kottonmouth Kings. Lil Wyte has been one of the respected underground talents of Tennessee since a 2002 Project Pat [click to read] appearance. With yet another album completely produced by Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J [click to read] and DJ Paul, Wyte goes all in with The Bad Influence. Endorsing marijuana and acid, even Oxycontin, Wyte purposely only offers rhymes that “just say yes.” With close to a dozen tracks devoted to drugs (and a handful that don't), did Lil Wyte offer a one-hitter or a bar of Xanax rhymes?
Without a doubt, Lil Wyte’s delivery is his greatest strength. The scratchy vocals and deep projection drive any of his albums, which have been lovely complemented by Hypnotize Minds production. That delivery carries The Bad Influence, but only so far. “I Say Yes,” “Leanin’ Off Dat Yurple” and “One Lil Pill” are three consecutive songs, all dedicated to prescription medications. Unlike Devin The Dude’s [click to view] “Zeldar” or Lil Wayne’s [click to read] “I Feel Like Dying,” Wyte doesn’t describe his highs, he merely constantly name-checks the drugs, promising peer pressure. With over 10 thematic records like these, it makes the sober songs like “Get Gone,” “So Called Homies” and “I Rep Mine” lose their luster in being out of place. “So Called Homies” is a story worth hearing, as Wyte admits that upon his signing with Three 6, he was surrounded by fair weather friends. “Get Gone” is another tucked-away highlight on The Bad Influence, coming from a state of paranoia and mixing classic Three 6 horror raps with a dash of Gorilla Zoe’s [click to read] “Lost.”
Despite limited and under-developed subject matter, The Bad Influence boasts production from two of the most active star veterans in Hip Hop. Still, Juicy J and DJ Paul did not supply Wyte with the soulful, polished production that 2009 witnesses on the three other crew solo-albums. “One Lil Pill” chops and screws Wyte’s earlier “Look Like You” to get a natural chorus, though many of the songs rely on the rapper to yell the song titles between his verses. With an album so vocally themed about hallucinogens, pain-killers and kush, hardcore fans might have expected the hit-makers to experiment equally. That’s not the case, as these musical backgrounds are much more Red Bull than red-eyed.
For half a decade, Lil Wyte has been surrounded by one of the most respected groups in Rap, and never felt the need to merge to their style. A Memphis six-figure selling star in his own right, the rapper now is talking about some of the same things that made Three 6 famous 15 years ago on underground tapes. That’s a breath of fresh air before realizing that The Bad Influence is more of an idea than a fulfilled concept. Before there ever was an Amy Winehouse, Lil Wayne, Eminem and Ol’ Dirty Bastard have all clouded the reality with the raps when it came to drug sobriety. Lil Wyte however, a rapper who isn’t talking about this for the first time, makes The Bad Influence sounds like a Rap rave, 10 years after raves stopped being cool.