With the glut of underground gangsta rap in 2000 following the unprecedented success of Master P, it's often difficult to wade through the many poor releases to find the occasional gems. A long-time Memphis, TN, institution, Tommy Wright III's Street Smart Records developed a cult following in the South, with a dark, malevolent tone quite similar to Three Six Mafia but with a much grittier sound. Manson Family represents a small stable of rappers associated with Wright: K-Rocafella, C-Rocafella, C-9, Princess Loko, Lil' Sko, Mac T-Dog, and producer Maceo. Many of these rappers display remarkable skills, and Maceo's production proves evocative, with its horror film ambience and mid-tempo drum machine bounce. Unfortunately, it is hampered by shoddy sound quality, but if you can look past this, Heltah Skeltah features some impressive Southern gangsta rap with a sincere horror tone to it.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier