Houston-hard and with a shadow cast as big as Texas, Z-Ro continues to be the quiet giant in the back of the strip club on The Crown, a homegrown album that brags and boasts in that ultra-cold, Scarface-sure manner. Mr. Lee handles the production in total, and with no showy features or Diplo remixes, the album isn't concerned with crossover, but that doesn't mean amazing, envelope-pushing things don't happen. Biggest drift off course could be the cloud-rap, strip-club anthem rightfully dubbed "Exotic Girl," one of the wooziest numbers in the Ro's catalog that, on top of it all, grinds with some dubstep and stutters with some trap. It would be the creative high point if the soulful lesson called "Live Your Life" didn't start with "You're embarrassing Raymond Washington and Tookie Williams/You're not even part of the revolutionary progress they were built in" and then build on the cold, controversial street knowledge from there, while "What It Look Like" is filled with as much doubt as a pimp can reveal to the world without self-destructing ("Every time I get as far as I can from all of the hate/It's either 15 minutes away from me or right in my face"). Maybe this is what it was like when Tony Soprano let it all go in the offices of Dr. Melfi, but when "Love My Dick" admits "I know I'm an asshole baby, but that's how I mean to act," it's obvious Z-Ro's self-awareness is brought out by 808 beats and not therapy sessions. Brutal boss stuff and true talk, all around.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries