Trying to capitalize on the success of the hybrid, the rap-influenced rock, or rock-influenced rap, that has brought success to bands like Linkin Park, OutKast, and Gnarls Barkley, Atlanta's Shop Boyz unleashed their very own brand of "hood rock," as they called it, into the world in the spring of 2007. Shortly before the group's album, Rockstar Mentality, was released, the single "Party Like a Rockstar" had reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and found top spots on both the pop and rap charts, figures that prove the approach to have been the right one. At least, that is, in commercial terms. Because while the song itself has done well, it's by no means due of any legitimate musical talent on the part of the Boyz (unlike Linkin Park, OutKast, and Gnarls Barkley, all of whom are smart and talented). Rockstar Mentality is clearly a calculated move, and it shows, lacking that creative spontaneity that made songs like "Crazy" or "Hey Ya" so appealing. The tracks on this album are obviously formulaic and contrived: each of the three rappers takes an unremarkable verse, separated from the other ones by simple singsongy hooks that are catchy only because of their repetitiveness. Guitars are king here, more than the heavy bass and synth most associated with Southern rap (though both are still present), from the minor riffs on "Party Like a Rockstar" to the vaguely Latin-inspired "My Car," to the interpretation of the Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another" on "Baby Girl," to the amazingly embarrassing blues of "Rollin'." But despite all of these attempts, Rockstar Mentality doesn't sound or feel like a rock album, at all. The Shop Boyz and their producers are looking for that grit and pomp that attract audiences to rock music (and rock stars), but instead they end up with a boy band version of it, which is OK, if that's what you're looking for.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown