Rainman

Bigga Than Life

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When the popularity of Florida-style bass (as in the 2 Live Crew, Tag Team, 95 South, and Afro Rican) faded in the '90s, that wasn't the end of Southern rap -- not at all. In fact, Southern rap became even bigger with commercial success stories ranging from the New Orleans-based Master P and his No Limit posse to all the crunk and non-crunk rappers who came out of Atlanta. TVT Records was among the first non-Southern labels to see the potential of Southern rap beyond bass; before TVT signed Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, the Ying Yang Twins, or Pitbull in the 2000s, the New York City-based company released Jacktown (601) by the Jackson, MS-based group Wildliffe Society. One of Wildliffe's members was Rainman (formerly Xtiano), who pursued a solo career after Wildliffe's breakup in 1998. Although the Mississippi native has been based in Los Angeles since 2003, his solo album Bigga Than Life is more Dirty South than West Coast. Rainman doesn't get into crunk but rather favors Southern-style gangsta rap -- and while this 2007 release isn't nearly as violent as some of the gangsta rap that has come from Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas, there is plenty of hustler/baller/player imagery on tracks like "Ghetto Gorilla," "Stop a Train," "I'm a Hustler," and "Mr. Doughboy." Bigga Than Life won't win any awards for originality; anyone who has spent a lot of time listening to Dirty South gangsta rap has heard it all before. Rainman is a competent rapper, and he manages to come up with some catchy grooves here and there (especially on "Country Girl," an ode to Southern women). But overall, the material isn't terribly memorable on this formulaic and contrived effort.

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