Bun B / DJ Drama

Gangsta Grillz Legends Series

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It's getting increasingly hard to separate the wheat from the chaff in the absurdly overextended world of the hip-hop mixtape, which had long been an underground barometer of cool, a sort of farm system where young rappers and producers could get their feet wet and well-known artists could engage in stylistic experiments, free-form unlicensed sampling and/or beef with their competitors. Not to sound like one of those people who are always going on about how much better things were back in the day or anything, but that sense of playful experimentation seems to have been leaching out of the mixtape scene over the last several years as real labels have started giving them proper wide release. The market is saturated now; it seems like some artists release half-a-dozen mixtapes for every proper album, and the quality control is slipping. Case in point, BCD's ongoing Gangsta Grillz series of Houston-centric mixtapes. Even though the city is currently home of one of the hottest hip-hop scenes in the country, there's still such a thing as overkill: over a dozen volumes of the series have been released in just over a year, and Gangsta Grillz Legends Series by Bun B and DJ Drama sounds like a tired recapitulation of them all. There are a lot of big names in the credits for this album, from Houston stalwarts like Paul Wall and Mike Jones to international superstars like Ludacris, Lil Jon and Chamillionaire, but none of the folks making the brief cameos are putting forth their best work, and there's little new or exciting going on in the remixes. Sadly, it seems like the whole mixtape concept is just getting played to death. [This release come with a second CD of 'chopped & screwed' mixes.]