Stars are to be marveled from a distance. Not only because they shoot high, but there is the chance to see them fall. B.G. is one of those artists that came into the national consciousness sporting a high powered clique, The Hot Boys, selling millions of albums. Not only that, he was the headlining member, grabbing attention with his bars slathered in southern flow that brought audiences around the country following his every word.
However, B.G. took a fall. He struggled with heroin, and was dwindled by groupmates Lil Wayne and Juvenile after the early ’00s. The lone Cash Money star to go independent, Gizzle helped build Koch a Rap formula, but lost a lot of his stardom on the national scale. With a string of arrests and incarcerations, the New Orleans rapper would make a powerful friendship with T.I., who set the stage for the 29 year-old’s return to the majors. Though Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood lacks the Grand Hustle backing it was once promised, Tip executive produces, and Atlantic Records allows the “Bling, Bling” maker to reunite with platinum producers for a comeback effort. Although B.G. certainly awakens his career with honesty and bravado, the rapper also shows his inability to advance skills in changing artistic times.
The anticipated reunion with Mannie Fresh led to first single, “My Hood” . This track definitely feels, as B.G. says, “like the old days.” Mannie uses his handy snare and horns to craft another beat that appeals to both trunks and clubs. Sonically, “Fuck The Game Up” is also true to Gizzle’s career-long formula. He uses this to open the album up and “clear his name.” He keeps it candid using two minutes to explain himself. The delivery remains the same as always, but the honesty shows that the Hot Boy is fully conscious, a trait missing on recent efforts.
“Ya Heard Me” shows just what the public can expect from a Hot Boys album. With a backdrop full of low-end bass provided by Cool & Dre, as well as a hook by Lil Wayne and Trey Songz, this song already has the tools to get the job done. What pushes it over the edge by three dimensional verses by all three rappers B.G., Juvenile, and Lil Wayne. B.G. layers the track with his grime savvy bottom, pushing his story through the bass. Lil Wayne cleans up the end with his deceptively simple rhymes “Even if you get married you couldn’t do what I do.” Juvenile stands strong between the two, giving that hypnotic flow that personifies his whole style. In short, this track shows exactly why the streets have been clamoring for a reunion.
The featured artists are a bit of a mixed bag here. Young Jeezy goes in, if only for a brief 16, on “I Hustle”. The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-produced cut would feel right at home on a Jeezy album, and B.G doesn’t let either party down with his two verses on the backend. “Nigga Owe Me Some Money” features the late Soulja Slim, as well as the recently incarcerated C-Murder and Lil Boosie. The result is a Louisiana lashing of street tales that got that bounce that the state is famous for. Executive producer T.I. never spits a verse on “4 A Minute.” B.G. does well on the song, however, it just feels weird to have the rapper just do adlibs on a track that feels like a T.I. vehicle.
The biggest problem with this album is its length. This would have been served best to be a shorter album, cutting some of the fat that hangs from it. There are a couple of tracks that would be better suited to headline a mixtape release such as “I Swar” and “Gutta Gutta,” which don’t do much in terms of constructing the narrative that B.G. wants, but simply reinforces it. They are not bad songs; however, as they don’t add to the album, they come across as unneeded.
At its end, Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood reflects the trials and tribulations that B.G. has been through. Reality bites. We make mistakes and the best of us overcome them to become successful. Gizzle has always been known to grab the listener and place him into his world. Even with a handful of bright moments, this album can get a tad strenuous with its length, and its lack of attention to detail.