Penitentiary Chances

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Rapper Turk was sitting in prison on the release date for Penitentiary Chances, his strongest solo album yet. With the album still unfinished, the rapper was arrested and accused of shooting a police officer during a drug raid (Turk says he was hiding in the closet the whole time without a gun). According to Turk's label, Koch, "Music Makes Me High" is the "antidrug" song that the rapper recorded in jail. It's a great cut with a slow reggae beat and the fantastic couplet "I'm like a Nokia/Only free on weekends," but with the rapper "smoking a little weed," it's hardly antidrug. Maybe Turk's lawyers are working their spin on his press releases, but one listen to the album proves they didn't touch his music. The prosecution can quote any number of the hostile threats or boasts about selling drugs that are littered throughout Penitentiary Chances, but it's not like there's any more than usual. What's new in the world of Turk is that his usual producer, Kenoe, has gotten his laid-back, sparse, and easy-to-tell-it's-Southern production down to a science, and every track on which he lays his hands comes up funky. He's spot-on as an executive producer too, rounding up the right supplemental producers (A.D. and U.P. mostly) and keeping the album tight. At 11 tracks Penitentiary Chances is practically an EP by today's rap standards, but you don't have to suffer through the same "skits" every time you listen to it. Turk's twangy voice barks out his pointed raps for the first half of the album and lays down some smoother and more conscious raps for the second half. That he makes the transition so well is just a testament to his skills and the album arcs almost perfectly. Penitentiary Chances could bring his career up to the level that the rest of the ex-Hot Boys reached if only he was still "free on weekends" to promote it.

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