Album Reviews: On Top of Our Game by Dem Franchize BoyzWhen Jermaine Dupri promotes an artist or group, you can usually be assured that what he is supporting is high in quality. But with his latest find, Dem Franchize Boyz (Jizzal, Parlae, Pimpin, Buddie), the listener is left with a sometimes interesting, often tedious, attempt at a party record.
The first four tracks of On Top Of Our Game represent the strongest and most interesting third of the album. Beyond the hit single, "I Think They Like Me (So So Def Remix)," the other three tracks ("My Music," "Ridin' Rims," and "Bricks 4 the High") provide clever hooks, production with enough snap to break your neck, and just enough amusing lyrics to make the album entertaining. The beginning tracks are simply fun party records that are beat driven and lyrically complemented.
The most interesting track on the album comes courtesy of the most unlikely of guest appearances. While Jim Jones, Bun B, Trey Songz, and Three 6 Mafia are the most notable guest appearances, Damon Dash steals the spotlight. The former CEO of Roc-a-Fella Records adds his boasts of entrepreneurial success to the hook on "Bricks 4 the High." While Dash never says anything directly about the current Roc-a-Fella head (one Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay-Z), there is an undertone to his self-lauding that leaves the listener wondering if this could be the start of a huge label feud.
Sadly, the album takes a turn for the less interesting when the lyrics take center stage and the production moves to the back. The rhymes lack creativity and their subject matter is so limited that every song feels the same. From the redundant choruses to the grade school rhymes (i.e. "I am the man with the plan," "I am higher than a plane," "not like a Flintstone but I make the bedrock," etc.), the album's energy is completely lost by the end of the fourth song. By the end of the album you will find yourself disagreeing with their assumption that people like them and realize that people are just tolerating them. -- Jason Kordich
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