Obie Trice and Bubba Sparxxx

November 5

Bubba Sparxxx might not have hit it big if Eminem hadn't done it before him, since Eminem's mainstream legitimization of the blue-collar white person as a viable hip-hop persona certainly eased the acceptance of a portly Georgian partial to rolling around in the mud. Obie Trice definitely wouldn't have, since Eminem gave him a record deal (following a drive-thru audition, he told Rolling Stone) and signs his checks. Trice's Shady Records debut, Cheers, makes use of the formula deployed on fellow Eminem protégé 50 Cent's: hard-boiled street talk and casual misogyny set to completely irresistible beats (by Dr. Dre, Timbaland and Em himself, who's getting comfortable enough behind the board to quote his own hits, as he does on the queasy party jam "Got Some Teeth"). Like 50, Trice makes an appealing virtue of insouciance; in the title track he toasts all his soldiers who ain't here with a cup of beer, but sounds like he downed a few on the way to the memorial. Sparxxx is anything but blithe on his anguished Deliverance: "Eminem's incredible," he admits in "Nowhere," "but did I really have to say this for y'all to leave my soul at rest and add me to your playlist?" The chorus of the song is sung by fellow Timbaland protégé Kiley Dean, a blond-haired 20-year-old from a small-ass Arkansas town we used to stop for gas in on the way to actual places; when she tells Sparxxx that she, too, knows what it's like to be nowhere, it's true enough to make you squirm.

 
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