As long as MCs are obsessed with representing their 'hoods, it is safe to assume that hip-hop will have a lot of regional flavors. Those who are seriously into rap can easily tell a New York flow from a California flow, or a Dirty South approach from Nelly's St. Louis style. And this regionalism isn't limited to the United States -- in Italy, for example, an MC from Milan might have a very different flow from an MC in Palermo, Sicily. The minute The Playground starts playing, it is obvious that LV & Prodeje are representing Los Angeles; from the rapping to the G-funk production, everything on this 2002 release is right out of the Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg/Warren G. school of L.A. gangsta rap. And that isn't surprising when you consider Prodeje's background. The Prodeje who raps on The Playground is Austin "Prodeje" Patterson of South Central Cartel fame, and he shouldn't be confused with the Prodigy who is with Queens, NY's Mobb Deep. This Prodeje and Mobb Deep's Prodigy have both rapped about inner-city thug life extensively, but their rapping styles are quite different -- although Mobb Deep helped bring gangsta rap to Queens, they never tried to emulate L.A.'s flows or beats. By 2002 standards, The Playground isn't innovative or groundbreaking; nonetheless, the grooves are likable and infectious and the sleek, soul-drenched production is consistently attractive. Like Dre, LV & Prodeje obviously have a healthy appreciation of '70s soul and funk, and influences like Parliament/Funkadelic, the Ohio Players, and the Isley Brothers have a positive influence on the melodies and tracks (although most of the lyrics are straight-up gangsta rap). The Playground doesn't reinvent the West Coast rap wheel, but it's a likable effort that will appeal to die-hard fans of G-funk and L.A. gangsta rap.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
feat: L.V. & Prodeje