With a hammer-of-the-gods voice and enough street cred to be the ghetto president, Slim Thug is the latest import from the scorching Houston underground. Of course it doesn't hurt that his major-label debut, the optimistically titled Already Platinum, is a collaborative effort with reigning pop kings the Neptunes. It's an effective pairing -- the Neptunes' airy minimalism provides a perfect backdrop for Slim's hard, punishing flows. On the dizzying, aquatic "Diamonds," he revisits his H-Town chopped and screwed roots, while "Ashy to Classy" finds the normally menacing Slim getting sentimental over the Neptunes' signature neo-R&B. Surprisingly Already Platinum is not only one of the better hip-hop CDs of the year, but it's also one of the most balanced.