Trillville and Lil Scrappy

Combining two artists' debuts into one release was sensible marketing for Lil Jon, who sought to bring out further evidence of the young crunk culture of Atlanta. But the maneuver almost begged for competition between Lil Scrappy and the trio Trillville, even though both received the benefit of Jon at the helm. It didn't take long before dissension and frustration from being lumped together in one package bubbled up on each side via the underground hip-hop press.

Trillville brings a sinister quality to their crunk offerings, which Lil Jon readily matches with minor key warbles and extra snarly growls. The trio's single with Jon and Lil Scrappy, "Neva Eva," is catchy enough, but it unfortunately doesn't have many companions on the disc. What they are ultimately missing is sex appeal; there's not much here for the ladies. However, they do lay claim to Lil Jon's most absurd track ever, "Dookie Love," which should be taken literally. It's as hilarious as it is just completely wrong.

Somehow, Lil Scrappy has more energy than Trillville's three members combined. When his half of the disc starts up with "Crank It," it feels like a club where a skilled DJ is about to turn it out -- which he does with the club bangers "Head Bussa" and "No Problem. They are standout tracks, not only for Lil Jon's beats, but for Scrappy's hooks, which are aggressive yet a bit more restrained than Trillville's, making them easier to sing along to.

Now, who will step up to the plate first with a stand-alone sophomore album? Trillville and Lil Scrappy both have magnetism: On the recent Southern hip-hop documentary Dirty States of America, Trillville and Lil Scrappy performed "Neva Eva" and "Head Bussa" a capella, demanding just as much attention as they do when backed by Lil Jon's machines. Smart money favors Lil Scrappy to inch ahead of his label mates, though. Switching from adorable to menacing with the briefest change of expression puts him in good stride with the ladies and the thugs, a winning combination that today's successful rapper must master.

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Tamara Palmer

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