C-Bo continues to smooth out the darker elements of his music on Life As a Rider. He's still one of the most hardcore rappers on the West Coast, but the death obsessions that characterized his early albums for Awol -- The Autopsy (1994) and Tales From the Crypt (1995) -- have been displaced by more of a big-baller mentality. C-Bo's "rider" persona is much more accessible than his former "American nightmare" persona, and it also helps that he works primarily with producer Mike Mosley on Life As a Rider, who lays down beats that sound obviously influenced by Dr. Dre's early-2000s sound. You could argue that C-Bo is compromising his former hardcore-as-hardcore-gets approach for a more commercially viable gangsta approach that's not too far removed from what you'd expect from latter-day 2Pac or Snoop Dogg and his Eastsidaz posse; however, the change is actually quite welcome. C-Bo had exhausted his "American nightmare" style by the end of the '90s. So, even if he's merely following the trends in West Coast gangsta rap, it's a new direction for him to head in, something that longtime C-Bo fans will either complain about or, more likely, accept as part of the rapper's growth -- artistically as well as commercially.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: C.J. Mac
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