The 5th Ward Boyz took their name from the same infamous Houston ghetto that gave the world the Geto Boys, one of the first groups to embrace gangsta rap in the 1980s. Like the Geto Boys, the 5th Ward Boyz specialized in gangsta rap and offered violent, profane depictions of life in the Fifth Ward. But while the early gangsta rap of the Geto Boys, Ice-T, N.W.A, and Schoolly D had a definite freshness and was quite cutting-edge, there's nothing fresh about Usual Suspects. "Got II Be Down II Die," "Heat," "Pussy, Weed and Alcohol," and other tunes on this routine, unoriginal effort don't say anything that older gangsta rappers weren't saying eight years earlier. A few of the songs are memorable -- most notably "Live Your Life" and "Mama's Praying," which describes a mother's prayer that her son won't get caught up in the criminality that surrounds her in the ghetto. But on the whole, Usual Suspects demonstrated that in 1997 there were still many rappers who were content to offer one tired, worn-out gangsta rap cliché after another.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
feat: 8Ball and MJG
feat: Willie D