Skull Duggrey

3rd Ward Stepper: The Album

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After a generic No Limit album, Skull Duggrey returns with 3rd Ward Stepper, an album much in contrast to its guest-heavy predecessor, These Wicked Streets. By no means a remarkable album, it at least featured a broad array of No Limit soldiers -- Master P, Silk the Shocker, Fiend, Mia X, C-Murder -- which provided some sense of diversity. So, in a way, it's rather shocking to hear Skull Duggrey handle 16 of the 18 songs on 3rd Ward Stepper strictly on his own -- quite honestly, it's straight-up daunting. Sure, Nas or Mos Def can tackle an entire album with their well-developed ideas and contemplative thoughts; however, this artist isn't nearly as idealistic. He merely tackles one clich├ęd Dirty South theme after another: "Bout Dat" recycles Tru's "I'm Bout' It, Bout It"; "Bounce Dat Ass" functions as his take on Juvenile's "Back Dat Azz Up"; "When My Chopper Goes..." is just another take on BG's Chopper City; and so on. If there is one noteworthy attribute about this album, it would have to be the production; it's on par with most late-'90s No Limit production, with a few truly embarrassing exceptions (in particular, Feind's production on "When My Chopper Goes..." is downright painful to listen to). In sum, only the most diehard Dirty South fans should find much redeeming value in this album -- if anything, it will help you better appreciate all those second-rate No Limit albums that once seemed so bland.

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