Young Buck

Buck the World

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Young Buck's sophomore effort arrived as his crew and label (G-Unit) plus his career savior (50 Cent) had come under scrutiny for their struggling sales (struggling as in they weren't always going platinum). None of this really matters in the long run because drama and talk aren't really part of the final listening experience, but it's worth noting because Buck the World doesn't outright look like a G-Unit release (the artwork isn't as loud as usual and there's no visual references to money) and it doesn't sound like it's from the house of 50 until about halfway through. Whether it's a decided distancing or not, Scarface and early Mobb Deep come to mind as "Push Em Back" kicks open the door. By the time producer Hi-Tek shows up on "I Ain't ******* Wit U" with one of his most singalong, soulful constructions to date, Buck has already hung with 8Ball, MJG, and Bun B and cleaned out his own closet over a "My Hero Is a Gun" loop off the Mahogany soundtrack on the dramatic "Buss Yo' Head." Smart and fresh decisions continue when Lyfe Jennings guests on the soul-searching title track and Chester Bennington lends a hand to "Slow Ya Roll," a lyric-writing triumph for Buck. The pivotal cut opens up the door to familiar territory with 50 and Dr. Dre both contributing to "Hold On." From here on out you can take everything great about the rapper's debut and apply it here. It's that satisfying mix of polish and street with all-stars like Lil Jon, who is back again with a burner ("Money Good"), Jazze Pha, who gives up two ("Kings," "I Know You Want Me"), and Ky-Mani Marley, who joins for a smoking song that would make father Bob smile ("Puff Puff Pass"). Capping off this well-built and surprisingly diverse album is a thrilling mix of new and old as Buck shouts the angst-ridden and completely destructive lyrics of "Lose My Mind" against Eminem's typically tinker-toy melody. The track connects the dots from Buck to G-Unit and onto Slim Shady, making Buck the World a great way to steady the whole, supposedly troubled empire. Even better, when considered as a self-contained effort from Buck, it's the release that makes him more than G-Unit's clean-up man by proving he could survive even if 50 and Shady bankrupted the corporation tomorrow.

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