If you were an independent rapper whose first album sold so well that you could already afford diamonds, exotic cars and real estate, why would you sign with a major label? To make the nation respect your gangster, that's why. Houston rhyme slinger Slim Thug has only ego as a motive to go national, andthat ego is front and center on Already Platinum when he flosses his money and warns the competition against trying him. But it's not his subject matter--it's his aggressive delivery in syrup-thick baritone and clever lines like "Slim shows and tells so these hoes know me well/I been closing candy doors since Pac was in jail" that set him apart from lackluster Dirty South rappers. Then again, so do The Neptunes, who hog most of the production credits on Platinum and serve up club bangers "I Ain't Heard of That" and "Like a Boss." Still, ST sticks close to home with the chopped and screwed "Diamonds," featuring fellow Houstonians UGK on the hook.