With a track list 30-long and a thousand things going on at once, The Mind of Mannie Fresh is just about as good a title as you could find for this crazy ride. The album brings to mind a Southern, crunked-up version of Prince Paul's Psychoanalysis: What Is It?, an album that could be seen as self-indulgent, but could also be seen as a rare journey through a busy producer's mind. Tracks like "Real Big," "How We Ride," and "Tell It Like It Is" are just some of the straight-ahead party pleasers with impact and grooves that stand up to any other chart-topping crunk. That shouldn't be too surprising considering the amount of massive tracks Fresh has helmed in the past, but his scatter-shot humor and crazed-player attitude haven't been explored this hardcore before, not even on a Big Tymers' record. He's hornier than ever too, which makes the "clean" edition of the album sound like a scratched, skip-filled affair. The skits are hilarious and with marching band percussion and soulful horns, Mannie's earned the "intro of the year" award for 2004. Not that he's ever going to be mistaken for Biggie, but his lyrical skills keep improving. He keeps it simple most of the time but adds little twists and stingers to his standard-issue chants. Offering Eminem-styled rebellion commentary, "Mayor Song" takes an entirely different lyrical route, and just when you tire of Mannie's mouth, Petey Pablo and David Banner show up. Clocking in at just less than 80 minutes -- 30 or so of those given up to skits and interludes -- The Mind of Mannie Fresh is a lot to take in. It could have been cut down to the hits and baller tracks, but then it wouldn't have been so special, so unique. Not for everyone, but defenders of Cash Money Records and those that think there's a lot more creativity in this Southern smoke music than it ever gets props for are going to be revisiting this album for years.
The Mind of Mannie Fresh Review
by David Jeffries