It's easy to ignore that New Orleans' Baby Boy da Prince doesn't bring much new to the hip-hop game. He's got enough charisma, he's got the lyrical skills, and his flow is alluring, especially when laid on instantly gripping hooks and feel-good choruses. Give him someone like Mannie Fresh to bounce off and he thugs it up a bit more ("Naw Meen") without ever leaving his comfort zone. His debut, Across the Water, plays to his strengths the whole way, refusing to clean the swaggering rapper up for parental approval ("Slide in Slide Out" is 2 Live Crew-sized nasty) or oversell him as a gangster or drug-pushing snowman. BBDP still earns plenty of street-cred by easily dropping some Southern slang into his rhymes and working with a well-chosen set of hood-minded producers like Paulus and Big Herc. Good-timing anthems and lazy hang-out tracks are present in equal shares, and the few crossover cuts like "They Don't Know" with Nina Sky seem like pleasant diversions rather than forced plays for fame. The overall build of the album could be the blueprint for every executive producer wondering what to do with an up and comer riding a big hit -- in this case, it's the hooky and easy rolling "The Way I Live" -- and it only stumbles on skits that are hilarious on first listen yet excruciatingly long on return visits. You'd much rather listen to the interesting relationship this Prince has with language -- like when paparazzi becomes "papparoossi" -- which is just as informal as his relationship to spelling. Otherwise, Baby Boy da Prince sounds a lot like the upstarts who have obviously inspired him (B.G., Juvenile, T.I., etc.) without ever outright mimicking them. He's celebrating his love of hip-hop in such a natural manner that a unique voice is hardly a requirement at this point and with the highlights stacked so high, it matters even less. Label this one "infectious," "fun," and "promising."
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Lil' Boosie
feat: Mannie Fresh
feat: Nina Sky