Pastor Troy

Universal Soldier

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Pastor Troy's second attempt at a breakthrough album only furthers the frustration that many expressed with 2001's Face Off. The record tries to throw around Troy's beliefs and opinions without direction, which leads to songs that shoot off into tangents that have little to do with the subject matter. The fantasy thug anthems where he threatens his enemies are typical of the Dirty South genre, but often he'll contradict those threats with lyrics about his righteous devotion to Christianity. He tries to come off as a pious voice of reason on most of the tracks here, but this tactic fails when the next moment he's talking about his sexual exploits and marijuana intake. This spotty approach to lyrics really hurts certain tracks, as his religious beliefs are in direct opposition to almost everything else he raps about. His other negatives are related to the production work, as few of the producers here, outside of Lil Jon and Timbaland, do anything very interesting beyond the generic crawl of Dirty South. Still, when he reins in these bad habits, Pastor Troy can be a fascinating lyricist. "Bless America" quotes "Real American," Rick Derringer's ode to Hulk Hogan, while blasting terrorism, which already makes it seem ridiculous from the outset. But Troy meditates over the effect that bombings have on victim's families and the psyche of the American public, giving the chorus a depth that is hard to fathom without hearing it. The lush throb of Lil Jon's "Who, What, When, Where" is another highlight, as Troy proudly claims Georgia as his home with a clever defensiveness that never strays from the topic. And when he simply leaves Jesus out of songs, like in Timbaland's awesome club anthem "Are We Cuttin'," Troy can be downright fun. It isn't that Christianity is what makes this album so uneven, it's Troy's poor judgment of when to discuss the topic. When Pastor Troy is focused, he's on top of the Dirty South genre. But the sloppy way Universal Soldier is put together reveals more of his faults than his positives, making it another average record from a rapper who shows so much potential.

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