If not for the apathy and mishandling from his former major record label, Atlanta's Pastor Troy (n' Micah Levar Troy) might have emerged five years ago as one of crunk's major mainstream stars. At the time, he had all the elements that seem to work today: guest spots on Lil Jon records, productions by Timbaland, and striking looks that balance between menacing and cuddly (the winning combo of any edgy rapper). Instead he refused the mainstream and burrowed further underground, where he has become a cult hero who's often imitated in the South. Not including mixtapes, the independent offering Tool Musiq is his ninth studio release as well as the one mired in the most controversy. Under the pressure of offended retailers, Troy was forced to abandon in mid-May the original title of this album, Saddam Hussein. Too bad, for it was a tight metaphor for the take-no-prisoners lyrical warfare he brings here; at least the original title track is still intact. And though aggression is a default emotion throughout, there's also time and balance for some tenderness, thug style. "Hard for the Money" interpolates one of Donna Summer's most lively tunes when Troy busts out with the chorus: "She works hard for the money, so the gangsters treat her right." This worthy album isn't a bid for superstardom, and thank Saddam for that.
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