Wow, the new
South, A&R’s and everything! There is a musical migration taking place as
MC’s from across the country are adjusting their tune to reflect the sounds and
styles from below the Mason-Dixon Line. Major labels,
Radio and Hip-Hop America are indulging in the successful tasting Pie of
Southern Rap, and now Hurricane Chris wants a slice.

Born during
the era of Bush Pt.1, Hurricane Chris has had a grip on his Shreveport,
Louisiana hometown for a few years now, impressive for a rapper not yet 21.
Looking to stand out from his Magnolia state brethren Lil’ Wayne and Lil’
, Hurricane Chris is pushing the Ratchet movement, a
Louisiana version of music that looks to have the same impact of Atlanta’s crunk
and the Bay area’s hyphy. Hurricane set the summer on fire with his club
smash, A Bay Bay, which caught the attention of Atlanta uber producer Mr. Collipark.
Hoping to duplicate the same magic he has created for the Ying Yang Twins,
and new American Teen idol Soulja Boy, Collipark and Hurricane
Chris’s Ratchet City
crew have stuck to the script and created a formulaic
album, 51/50 Ratchet, reaching for sales and skipping on substance, but
also showing glimpses of hope.

The LP opens
with Getting Money, arguably the best song on the album. Produced by Phunk
and co-helmed by Collipark, Hurricane Chris sets the
tone with his unique voice and distinctive flow, with Missy Elliot
protégé Nicole Wray providing the silky hook over the booming opus. It
seems as if this track is inspired by U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What
I’m Looking For
, as Chris explains even though his tax bracket is
different, he still has plenty to discover. On New Fashion, Hurricane
takes an amusing, charlatan look in the mirror over the Package Store
thumper, as he mocks the rappers today for having nothing to talk about but the
finer things in life. The album starts to get infuriatingly predictable, as
Chris breezes through glossy, empty club bangers, Doin’ My Thang, The Hand
and Beat in My Trunk. Of course there’s an ode to
gang-banging, fittingly titled Bang, and a weak epic for the ladies, Touch
, where at one point we find Hurricane willing to lose his hearing
for a particular woman, and then letting her know she better not think of
having his baby. But Hurricane shows promise, as he and fellow rapper Boxie
get loose on the Collipark concoction Playas Rock, a sure radio
hit inspired by Earth Wind and Fire’s sultry Love’s Holiday. Hurricane
doesn’t change the game with his song Momma, but it’s
refreshing to hear him acknowledge that he had two parents guiding him growing
up, even after his father left the household.

There are a
lot of opportunities Hurricane Chris missed with his album, but it seems
as if it were done purposefully. Today’s standards reflect that making an album
is more about lucre than art. At 18, the Hurricane has seen a lot, but
by his own admission still has plenty to learn, and that’s what I want to hear
him write about. Hopefully on his next album, he’ll make the difficult choice
of making an album with more narratives and less filler. Once he does that, making
his mark in this game will be as easy as taking candy from a bay-bay.