Female rappers as a whole have never been strongly represented in terms of pure numbers, but with the decreasing priority on having at least one woman on every prominent Hip Hop label, those few that are still standing have a good opportunity to establish their individual value. Trina has apparently taken this into consideration because while Still Da Baddest isn’t a huge leap for her in terms of subject matter, she’s clearly put more effort into this album than any of her past releases. Much of her work borrows heavily from recent Pop and Hip Hop successes by other artists, but in a way that borrowing is what makes the album work.

Comparison to Lil’ Kim is an obvious issue for Trina, but Still Da Baddest doesn’t shy away from comparison, even going as far as to make several references to B.I.G. throughout the title track. Unexpectedly, by throwing the comparison into the open so early, it allows her to make the rest of the album without being defensive about any other Kim-like moments or having to resort to taking shots are her. More to the point, Baddest is actually built much like a late-90’s Bad Boy album, the perfect mode for a rapper like Trina. Guest appearances are frequent but appropriate and the tracks vary enough stylistically to stay away from being repetitive. Trina‘s lyrics aren’t mind blowing but they focuses on her strengths (“Look Back at Me” is more graphic than most actual pornography) and down-plays her weaknesses; her voice has improved noticeably as well. The project as a whole is put together properly, benefiting more from its overall presentation than any individual element.

Still Da Baddest will ultimately go down as forgettable though, mostly due to how derivative the tracks are of many recent Top 40 hits. “I Got a Bottle” is built on a fairly obvious jack of “SexyBack” and “Single Again” makes no effort to pretend that isn’t trying to replicate the Timbaland sound. Other songs are less specific bites, but most fill obligatory roles that Hip Hop and R&B listeners will be well accustomed to, from the “love song” (“I Wish I Never Met You”) to the “strip club song” (“Stop Traffic”). Still, it’s safe to say that Baddest was never intended to be an artsy, avant-garde offering for hipsters so the formulaic approach isn’t as much of a problem as it might seem.

It may seem like a backhanded compliment to call Still Da Baddest “better than you’d expect,” but honestly, Trina wasn’t exactly under pressure to deliver a classic. It would’ve been fairly easy for her to get away with delivering a so-so album and take advantage of the fact that she doesn’t have any specific competition. Instead, she studied the market and put effort into making an album that people would like. Enjoying Still Da Baddest does require you to already be up for what Trina is selling. But if you are, it’s likely that you’ll be a satisfied customer.