It was inevitable that crunk would spawn its own subgenres, and you can go ahead and pencil in Atlanta's Dem Franchize Boyz atop the nascent "snap music" movement. Their main competition is D4L, which proved that less really can be less on the ridiculously minimal hit "Laffy Taffy," which taints the victory somewhat. But despite the Franchise Boyz' equally non-existent "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It," their otherwise more substantial self-titled debut suggests that they'll at least be around for crunk's next mutation. Meanwhile, babyfaced singer Chris "Run It!" Brown has been touted as the future of R&B, and New Orleans rapper Lil' Wayne has survived that sort of teenage hype -- but it's show opener Ne-Yo who has the brightest future on this bill. Not surprisingly, he's also the sore thumb: His forte is classic soul, not crunk-friendly club fare, and his self-written debut, In My Own Words, shows he has a pen that's equal to his voice.
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