Three years in the making, Speech's second album finds the former Arrested Development frontman still working through his roots-centric vision of hip-hop. More Stevie Wonder than Silkk the Shocker, Hoopla incorporates much laid-back session material and even a few live-and-on-stage jam sessions, right in line with hip-hop's growing affection for building songs from the groove up with live musicians. Thankfully, his relaxed rapping style shows little influence from any recent developments in the rap world, and it's always right in line with the material he's performing. It could have been a remarkable comeback record, but Hoopla suffers from several bizarre miscues. Speech remakes the consistently annoying 4 Non Blondes hit "What's Up" for his own track, titled "The Hey Song." To give him credit, Speech rebuilds the song with a female R&B chorus instead of just sampling the original, but that hardly makes it any less grating. The deep grooves and Speech's considerable production skills make for several intriguing tracks ("Movin' On," "Clocks in Sync with Mine," "Our Image"), but Hoopla isn't exactly worthy of celebration.
AllMusic Review by Keith Farley