City of Syrup

Big Moe

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City of Syrup Review

by Jason Birchmeier

Before anyone knew who Big Moe was following the release of his debut, City of Syrup, they knew the cover to his album. It catches your eye: Moe -- they call him "big" for a reason, by the way -- standing over an outline of Houston's skyline, pouring out a large Styrofoam cup of purple stuff. If you were down with the Dirty South, you knew what the purple stuff was. If not, you were baffled. Either way, the cover art caught your eye. But that's just the album cover. The real surprise came when you listened to the album and realized that Moe wasn't just another of the seemingly myriad Screwed Up Click members. No, he was much more than that. He can rap, he can sing, and he can do both very well. Plus, Moe wasn't afraid to exploit Houston's syrup-sippin' reputation to his benefit. Doing so worked for Three 6 Mafia, and the big man made it work for himself. Plus, Moe had another noteworthy feature that made City of Syrup worth investigating: "Mann!," a song that he intended as the Dirty South's answer to Black Rob's East Coast anthem, "Whoa." It all worked: the syrup-pouring cover, Moe's sing-rapping, and "Mann!" In the end, City of Syrup became the surprise album of 2000 -- at least down South, that is. But this album never spread too far from Houston like Moe's later recordings would. It's an underground album. It may have plenty of hooks and much to offer overall, but it's also awfully lo-fi. Still, even if City of Syrup doesn't have the studio polish of Purple World, it's a successful album, an album so successful it surprised nearly everyone who heard it.

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