Cassidy

I'm a Hustla

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A pair of plush, ladies' man pop-rap singles made Split Personality a gold-selling success for young Cassidy. For a lot of the fellas, these songs turned an MC known for his punchlines into a punchline, the street cred suddenly more Skee-Lo than C-BO. How to change this perception? Introduce your follow-up album with a lead single titled "I'm a Hustla," replete with a Jay-Z-sampling rally call -- just like another Swizz Beatz concoction, T.I.'s "Bring 'Em Out." Another way to make people forget about your pretty-boy looks and soft songs? Catch a murder rap. Less than two weeks before I'm a Hustla's release, that's exactly what Cassidy did. Whether or not he's guilty or even happened to time the act just right, it gives his second album some extra attention. It's certainly harder overall than Split Personality; the seductive tracks are fewer in number and not nearly as melodic (R. Kelly does not return, likely wrapped up crafting Pied Piper Radio Hour). There's even a message track -- titled, naturally, "The Message" -- that makes as much sense on a Cassidy album as a hip-house throwback. Despite the concerted attempt to come off differently, I'm a Hustla isn't much more effective than Split Personality. It does start off excitingly enough, in the form of "The Problem vs. the Hustla," in which the MC conducts a battle rap between two sides of his personality, perhaps inspired by T.I.'s "T.I. vs. T.I.P." The Hustla wins, unsurprisingly, with "You should switch flows, n*gga, your sh*t gold/When I drop, I'm a sh*t more than your sh*t sold." The Problem takes the advice, but it doesn't get him very far, even with guest spots from Nas, Lil Wayne, Raekwon, Mario, and Mary J. Blige. [I'm a Hustla was released in two editions: a copy-protected CD that will not play on your computer without installing a separate media player, and a DualDisc, containing a CD on one side and a DVD on the other. The DualDisc has a 5.1 mix version of the album on the DVD side, along with videos for "B-Boy Stance" and "I'm a Hustla," as well as a "Cassidy Makes a Video" segment and a photo gallery. The CD side of the DualDisc may not register on some computers, although it will play on a CD player.]

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