Notebook Paper

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Notebook Paper Review

by David Jeffries

Mix Nelly, Chingy, and a very beneficial helping of Ludacris, and you're close to the sound of Huey, the St. Louis rapper who burst onto the scene with the infectious club track "Pop, Lock & Drop It." The single had the necessary simple hook, catch phrase, and accompanying line dance to make it a "Chains Hang Low" or "Chicken Noodle Soup"-sized phenomena. The big difference was that the verses equaled the chorus for a change, since Huey has skills and swagger to burn. The two minor complaints about his first full-length, Notebook Paper, are that executive producer Mickey "MeMpHiTz" Wright pimps his new Hitz Committee label a little too often for what should be a Huey showcase and doesn't take full advantage of the rapper's ability to go street. "Aye" and "Closet Full of Clothes" surround "Drop It" with other club flavors -- Lil Jon, crunk style for the first; Southern, syrup-sippin' sounds for the second -- while "2 Nite" is polished and just waiting for a crooner like Bobby V. to add a verse. It all works to varying degrees, but when the vicious "Money Ova" hits with Yo Gotti and an especially hard Diamond it seems like the hood is right where Huey should be ("Nobody Loves the Hood" notwithstanding). Still, smooth numbers like "When I Hustle" -- featuring Lloyd and the biggest-name producer on the album, Jazze Pha -- and the rest of the gloss end up sounding more like highlights than missed opportunities. While more outside help might have shown them the way to something stunning, it's a testament to Huey and the Hitz Committee team that they made a rewarding rather than just promising debut out of some everyday beats and ideas.

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