Just to get it out of the way, Shawty Lo is one of the guys from D4L. He was locked up at the time “Laffy Taffy” was becoming a hit and didn’t have anything to do with that particular single so those purists who would ignore Units in the City based on that record shouldn’t hold it against him. On the other hand, once they play the album that he did make, they’ll find a lot more to hate.
To be fair, nothing on Units in the City is anywhere as foolish and undignified as the juvenile disaster that was “Laffy Taffy,” but several tracks come close. “Got ‘Em 4 The Lo” and “That’s Shawty Lo” go straight for the same simple, repetitive style that even most pop rappers gave up on a year ago. If the tracks were a backdrop for rhymes that were insightful, clever or at least energetic, it might be easier to look past their weaknesses but there are almost more words in this review than the album itself. Entire songs sound like bad freestyles (there’s no way that “Dunn, Dunn” was ever written down or even committed to memory) and “Cut the Check” is shallow even for a song about money. Shawty Lo makes Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em look like Jadakiss and at a time when even legitimately good MCs struggle to sell records, this kind of laziness is almost an insult.
There is the almost decent single (“Dey Know”) which is, by default, the bright spot on the album. Lyrically, it’s no better than anything else on Units in the City but a hot track is a hot track. Unfortunately for Shawty Lo, the “Dey Know” beat and flow has been murdered by almost everyone except the original artist and it’s never a good sign when an MC has the least interesting version of his own song. Still, considering that so much of Shawty Lo‘s style has been ripped off from his peers, he owes them at least decent track for their mixtapes. He’s trying entirely too hard to be T.I. or Jeezy, and whatever your opinions of either, we certainly don’t need yet another new rapper trying to walk their paths.
It would be nice to be diplomatic and say that Units in the City is one of those albums that’s made for the South. On the other hand, grading Shawty Lo on some sort of curve would be a huge insult to those MCs who’re actually trying to make real music for their people instead of just releasing nonsense and blaming the poor reception on people “hatin’ on the South.” Everything doesn’t have to be about region; some people just can’t rap and Shawty Lo is one of them. There was a time when Units in the City would’ve made a good weed plate but now that everyone’s downloading, it’s not even good for that.