These days, the term "hip-hop" is used much more frequently than "rap," and that's appropriate. Old-schoolers may wish otherwise, but in 2004, the genre is less about words than production. This simple fact makes it more difficult than ever for local artists who don't have access to enormous recording budgets to compete with performers who do, as They Call Me SUG'Z demonstrates.

Sug'z has a decent flow, and he's able to vary his tone depending on the subject matter, be it the drug trade ("Slangin'!") or the search for a woman with whom to share a bathtub ("The Ave"). Unfortunately, producer Sug'A Dad-E isn't able to provide the sort of sonics that might differentiate these tracks from the million others that touch upon similar topics. Typical is "Row Dawgs!," which lasts over five minutes, partly because the simple loop that forms its spine plays for about thirty seconds before Sug'z starts verbalizing and almost ninety seconds more after he quiets down.

The rhymes are fine, but when it comes to music that matters, They Call Me SUG'Z could be sweeter.




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