Almost Famous

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Already established as a living legend in the Dirty South scene back when the movement was strictly underground, 8Ball set his sights on crossover success with Almost Famous. At the time of the album's release in late 2001, the self-proclaimed fat mack had almost made it there, as the album title confidently points out. Unlike his sprawling double-disc debut album, Lost (1998), this follow-up features only a few guests (Carl Thomas, P. Diddy, and Ludacris, most notably), emphasizing solely 8Ball himself instead. And indeed Almost Famous centers distinctly on the rapper, exploring his personal life in depth, both past and present. It's undoubtedly nice to hear 8Ball flow unaccompanied here, though you do miss longtime partner MJG at times. Even so, 8Ball could use a little bit more help, not from outside rappers but rather from his producers, who don't provide anything particularly exceptional to work with here in terms of beats or songwriting. 8Ball carries Almost Famous largely alone, and while the big man is more than capable of doing so, he sure could use some of the stellar production (courtesy of Swizz Beatz, DJ Quik, and Jazze Pha) that had bolstered his previous album with MJG, Space Age 4 Eva (2000).

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