Fast Money

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Dirty South haters are going to point out that Fast Money covers the same old tired topics Cash Money releases have beaten to death for nearly a decade and a half. Yes, thugging, big pimping, spitting bravado, and boasting about the quality of Cash Money women and weed are all over Birdman's sophomore release, but Cash Money's CEO shows that his pimp hand is strong, giving his entire roster the Dirty South blueprint for a perfect weekend album. As a rapper, Bryan Williams (or Baby, now almost always Birdman) has always been a P. Diddy character, serviceable with the rhymes but a better boss and impresario. Here, he's a step up from on fire, keeping it simple as expected but always driven and cocksure. What's fascinating is that he's also ready for your ire, begging haters to bring it on. Using the "N" word as much as possible, dragging out every old cliché, and sticking the album's two weed songs right next to each other gives every snooty backpacker plenty of ammo and every opportunity to look like a chump in 2015 when Fast Money is reissued in some kind of tenth-anniversary "Dirty South Classic" edition with four-star quotes on the cover and liner notes that wax poetic about the album's perfection. Birdman's B.G. meets Jay-Z style is surrounded by the thickest, slickest production Cash Money has ever been graced with, courtesy of Deezle, the Birdman himself, and his Big Tymers partner, Mannie Fresh. 50 Cent would sign on for any of these beats and Deezle just went A list. The fat guest list is handled especially well, with Lil Wayne, 6 Shot, Mannie, and everybody else woven into the songs and layered like voices at the party. "Neck of the Woods," "Big Pimpin'," and "Get Your Shine On" are the holy trinity of highlights, but it's the on-the-corner "We Getting It On" that gives the album its heart. Recalling Digital Underground and tipping its hat to the old school, it's the track Timbaland and Missy will be studying along with every Dirty South rapper who can see past his 24s and syrup sipping. Like Brian De Palma's Scarface, Fast Money revels in excess, glitz, misogyny, and violence with an irresponsible, larger than life attitude. To call it a guilty pleasure would be ignoring how taut the album is, how the momentum of it all steamrolls over the listener, and how Cash Money has separated itself from No Limit and its ilk with one engrossing release. No Limit CEO Master P put out an album the same day as Birdman, but P's mediocre and boasting Ghetto Bill makes him sound like a carnival huckster in comparison. P's opportunistic empire might make him the "Ghetto Bill Gates," but Fast Money proves Birdman is the real king of the Dirty Southern streets. Big pimpin' indeed.

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