Juvenile returned in late 2003 with a slightly atypical album, Juve the Great, after having dropped off for roughly three years, which is a long time in rap years. A lot of wonder arose during his absence. In fact, a lot of wonder had arisen at the time of his previous release, Project English (2001). At that time, rumors circulated widely that Cash Money Records' top gun was breaking away from the pack, which was indeed what happened in the end, as Juvenile returned to the underground and formed his own collective, the UTP Playas (Uptown Project Playas), with whom he recorded a posse album, The Compilation (2002). Well, not much came of that album (for instance, very few people even knew it was released), and a year later, Juvenile returned to the Cash Money fold under hushed circumstances. His return effort is somewhat of a hybrid and thus mighty curious: for half the album, Juvenile collaborates with his UTP crew (rappers Wacko and Skip; producers Griz and Slice Tee), while for the other (and better) half, he collaborates with his old Cash Money comrades (rapper Baby and rapper/producer Mannie Fresh, but no Hot Boys). Despite the hybrid nature, Juve the Great plays as a whole surprisingly well, mainly because Juvenile remains Juvenile throughout, regardless of whom he's collaborating with. It's a fine effort on his behalf, more thoughtful than usual (this is clearly his album, not just another product churned out by Cash Money). Even so, except for the standout song "Bounce Back" (a Fresh production crafted around a brilliant Cameo sample), there aren't any clear-cut highlights -- Juve the Great is clearly not a chart-topping effort à la 400 Degreez. Granted, a few songs do stand out -- among them the album closer, "Slow Motion," a simple yet appealing collabo with Soulja Slim -- but they are few and far between. The end result isn't a return to form, but rather an atypical album for Juvenile that may not be remarkable, but is at least interesting, which is more than what can be been said for some of his previous efforts.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Mannie Fresh
feat: Soulja Slim