Lil Soldiers

Boot Camp

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Lil Soldiers stands as testimony to the marketing savvy of Master P -- but what No Limit record doesn't? Master P knows what his audience wants, so much so that he can even anticipate needs they might not know they have -- such as Lil Soldiers, a duo of hardcore youngstas who aren't even out of elementary school. A bizarre proposition, to be sure, and their debut album, Boot Camp, is every bit as weird as its description promises. True, the Lil Soldiers never swear anywhere on the record, but everything else on the record is 100-percent No Limit hardcore -- production by Beats by the Pound, recycled hooks, tales of ghetto life, advertisements in the liner notes, and so on. Sonically, the album works well -- it's one of Beats by the Pound's better pieces of work in a while, since it keeps a laidback, scratchy funk groove rolling throughout the entire album -- but it's disconcerting to hear thin, prepubescent voices rapping over these tracks. It's not that it's disturbing to hear the kids talk about gangsta violence (which may be offensive to some listeners) -- it's that their flyweight voices don't have the gravity for these rhythm tracks, and their tag-team vocals are never, ever in synch with each other. At first, this is amusing, but about a quarter of the way into Boot Camp, the whole thing just becomes tiring -- the music is acceptable, but not exceptional, and there's not enough camp value to hold interest. Which means that, despite their age, Lil Soldiers aren't really that different from the rest of the No Limit soldiers.

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