J. Stalin

Prenuptial Agreement

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Baby faced and all the more vicious because of it, J-Stalin was four years into his Bay area domination when Prenuptial Agreement arrived, but outside his home turf he was barely on the radar. Hip-hop radio’s national embrace of his late 2009 hit “Rock Day” (“For me it’s a sell rock day”) helped change all that, and the album it lands on is worthy of the great track, surrounding the infectious hit with plenty of Plies-meets-B.G.-meets-something-new music that should satisfy any thug. Prenuptial Agreement skillfully juggles its middle-grade budget with Stalin’s drug pusher stance and the tricky problem of how to make a baller’s album well-rounded without giving into the embarrassing bedroom track. Stalin’s smart enough to look to his homeboy Too Short for guidance and turns every slow jam into a chance to show his pimp hand, loading them with filth, bravado, and a shaky singing voice that will never be mistaken for Akon. Misogyny aside, these rickety numbers have their charm, and when guest E-40 starts “Get Me Off” with “Girl, you far from a hot mess”, the freaks know they’re in for a treat, but the real reason to check out the album is the unforgiving street tracks, which are plentiful and top-notch. The guest list is huge, yet it remains Stalin’s album, and the production often surprises with names like Traxamillion, De Mekanix, Swerve, and Mike Rimzo providing the beats. With 22 cuts, it’s overstuffed, but you can slice the album in half and get two worthy slabs of the Bay’s toughest upstart.

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