8Ball and MJG

Comin' Out Hard

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Along with OutKast's Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994) and Goodie Mob's Soul Food (1995), Eightball & MJG's debut, Comin' Out Hard, is one of the most influential rap albums to come out of the South. It wasn't as widely heard as those others albums, nor was it as professional-sounding; however, its independent release by Suave Records, based in Houston, and its basement-level production were influential in their own way. A generation of underground Southern rappers would arise by the end of the '90s, many of them following the template of Comin' Out Hard: underground hardcore rap modeled after West Coast gangsta rap yet delivered in a distinctly Southern manner, released via an indie label with major ambitions. Even the cover artwork of Comin' Out Hard, courtesy of Pen & Pixel Graphics, was influential, as the company would go on to design all the bling-blinging No Limit and Cash Money albums of the late '90s. Unfortunately, Comin' Out Hard is more historically significant than it is impressive from a strictly musical point of view. The production is admittedly lo-fi, credited to the rappers themselves, and while the raps are effective, the hooks leave room for improvement. Eightball & MJG would indeed improve in the years that followed, ultimately releasing a classic at the end of the decade, In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1999). Comin' Out Hard pales in comparison, yet it's an interesting album to hear from a historical perspective and is certainly noteworthy for its widespread influence, especially throughout the South.

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