Scott Johnson

This debut from Cleburne rapper Scott "the only cracker better than Ritz" Johnson showcases the work of a skilled lyricist, but its bloated 23 tracks (intro, outro, tiresome skits, plus a hidden track) will give your stereo's "next" button a workout.

Kicking off the disc is the chorus-free "The Truth," with threats to pawn your chain to pay off his student loans, an admission that "he's not from Houston" and a shout-out to the backpackers. "Do you really need to hear the same four lines twice? Are you having a good time? Do my lyrics not suffice?" he asks. But the next song, "King Kong Heart" suggests he has his doubts—even about that whole not-from-Screwston thing—because it has the album's catchiest, dumbest, most brilliant hook (not to mention the only screwed moment). It's by far the strongest track, with distorted synths, steel drums, strings and a swaggering mid-tempo beat complementing the rhymes.

After the meta-boring "Writer's Block" comes "Insomniaxe," which imagines the other people up as late as him, people like "those feeling the size of their sack/Got shorted some grams and can't take it back."

So is he a preachy underground anti-commercial cat, a club rocker, a conceptual storyteller or what? Whatever role he goes with, he's a witty, expressive MC who specializes in similes ("got the whole world talking like when Wayne kissed Baby"). He just needs a "Delete" button.