Go Hard or Go Home

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Fiend was out of the No Limit barracks by 2000, when the label itself was under fire from many and enduring an aggressive restructuring. In the aftermath, rumors whispered about Fiend landing with Ruff Ryders or some other majorly connected crew. But in 2004, the New Orleans-based MC decided to issue Go Hard or Go Home on his own Fiend Entertainment imprint, and the decision was probably a good one. Produced largely by the Fiend himself and featuring a battery of gritty and brazen raps, Go Hard has no room for bombast, and even less for filler. (There are only a few skits, and they're usually under a minute.) The mission of early highlights "Baller 4 Real" and "Rollin w/Fe" is to reestablish the man and his surprisingly addicting "Woah!" rallying cry -- they largely succeed, particularly "Rollin" with its Dirty South temper, steel drum sample, and Ralph Cramden reset. That's how Fiend does it. He has no patience for relationships (to put it lightly), and wants you to know all about his guns, his rims, his weed, and his cash. But he's equally comfortable dropping left-field rhymes about spaghetti, and in keeping with his newfound go-it-alone style, being refreshingly, confrontationally honest. "I sold my Lexus/Got a place to record," he says in "Roll That, Light That." "Talk about bounce back?/You should see the reward." In other words, Fiend's had a chip on his shoulder about the last few years, and it's the size of Louisiana. Guests on Go Hard or Go Home include Pee Wee, C-Loc, Ms. Peaches, and on the raunchy late album fave "Grab That," Young Hoggs.

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