Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire portrayed New Orleans as a hotbed of cultural integration, the type of place where anyone was welcome to add to the vibrant environment. However, in the 1940s it would have been difficult to foresee that New Orleans would be the proud birthplace of one of the hottest African American superstars.
For Mystikal it took some time to gain the recognition that he craved. The brief appearance on Snoop Dogg‘s Ghetto Symphony gave just a tiny hint that Mystikal could evolve into the pioneer of the infamous dirty south vibe. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell this from this compilation’s dark opener Here We Go.
The Mystikal we know came to life with his first UK hit Shake Ya Ass, which controversially was changed to Shake It Fast to appease MTV. The significance of the track to Mystikal’s career may only be small, but for the music world it gave The Neptunes one of their first big hits as producers. Pharrell and Chad certainly haven’t looked back since.
Danger confirmed Mystikal’s unique style, sealed with a kiss from The Neptunes. The blend of lyrical arrogance (“if I tell you it’s the s**t, then bitch that’s what it is”) subdues the signature sound of Mystikal’s grimy vocals. This all continues in the frankly insane Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against The Wall).
One of two new songs on Prince of the South, Pussy Pop shows that evolution is most definitely a continuous thing, with a more intense bass line and the now compulsory guest appearance from a flute. It’s a complete contrast when juxtaposed with The Man Right Chea from the dark ages of 1997 – like many of Mystikal’s older tracks the beat is looped to the extent that chorus and verse merge into a bit of a blur.
Y’All Ain’t Ready Yet, a song nine years old, is prime evidence of exactly why the dirty south movement has “blown up” in recent years. It seems like a niche is being cried out for, yet the beat is a confused fusion of east and west coast vibes. Tarantula is probably the softest song on the album thanks to Butch Cassidy‘s input, and its lyrics are funny (“bitch” aside): “I’m the black prince of the south so wop-ba-ba-loo-bop bitch watch out.”
The second and final new track on Prince Of The South, Hypno, is a crazy window into the world of weed smoking. While the lyrics are nothing special the beat is futuristic and really quite weird. It sounds good though. This is followed by Jump, the standout track from the Any Given Sunday soundtrack. The speed of the song epitomises the pace of the movie.
That’s The Nigga is a fitting end to Prince of the South – the lightning fast rapping and a brilliant beat pretty much summarising Mystikal’s contribution to music over the past years. There’s no doubting that this album is a fantastic collection of songs.