As the man behind Atlanta's D4L crew and their lightweight party hits "Laffy Taffy" and "Betcha Can't Do It Like Me," Shawty Lo gets no respect from hip-hop purists. To them, a solo album from a hype man/label boss who reluctantly took up rapping two years prior is pointless. They're right, and doubly so when they call Lo's "slow-flow" style "limited," but Units in the City is certainly an entertaining and well-balanced effort, equally stocked with hooks and clichés. With one of the breathiest deliveries in hip-hop, Shawty rattles off numerous "dope boy money" and "brown paper bag" stories over party beats, combining the good timing snap music D4L delivered with the cocaine-minded trap music his fellow Atlanta snowmen T.I. and Young Jeezy trade in. Shawty might not be able to match them lyrically, but with some fun wordplay -- rhyming "fellow" and "a cappella" by pronouncing it "a cappello" -- and the talent to hire all the right people for production and guest appearances, he's created a satisfying weekend album. There are a few surprises, like when "Live My Life" slides from a Nicolay influenced beat into something more Funkadelic all while quoting John Cougar Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane." The sing-songy "That's Shawty Lo" brings the Soulja Boy and Jibbs style into the world of pushing yayo, and "Live My Life" is a soft and reflective number that works, but the real reason Units exists is to house the infectious club tracks like "They Know" and "Dunn, Dunn." The big bombshell is that they're surrounded with material that's consistently satisfying, making Shawty's solo debut worth any snap music fan's attention.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Lil Yola