Back in 2005, Mike Jones was the talk of the Houston mainstream rap scene. Riding high with “Still Tippin’” & “Back Then” off his debut album Who Is Mike Jones? to double platinum sales, he was one of the few to capitalize off the city’s moment in the spotlight. Relying on savvy marketing (281-330-8004 is unforgettable) and an infallible grind, he was able to overcome his lyrical inadequacies to become a household name. Four years later, after several singles that failed to connect and shelved album/movie (The American Dream), Mike Jones is finally back with his sophomore album (and new phone number) The Voice. Although we know who Mike Jones is, the question is in the wake of this overly sexed release, is he the voice of the streets or the sheets?
After a brief intro, where Mike tells us to be on the look out for his next album (before this one is even digested), “Swagger Right Now” gets the show going while proving he’s kept up with the current slang during his absence. As with any song dealing with swag countless references to whips, chicks, & flossin’ ensue as he adds nothing new to the equation. He fare no better on “Boi!” featuring Young Problemz, where Mike does his best “A Milli”/”Move” rendition. Mike just sounds lost on here as these types of songs require clever metaphors and punchlines which is not his strength.
Things briefly pick up on “Cuddy Buddy” featuring Twista, Lil’ Wayne, & T-Pain, a syrupy ode to late night encounters, with Jim Jonson magic not even Mr. Repeat could manage to ruin. From that point on, Mike goes out of his way to prove his pimp hand is way strong. He walks the delicate line of devoted partner (“I Know”, “Next To You”) and club-going player (“Happy Birthday”, “Drop And Gimme 50”) with equal aplomb, giving us a seven song block with are variations of the same theme. Almost every track, with the exception of “Give You A Call” featuring Devin The Dude, were made with potential airplay in mind. Three or four interspersed throughout would have been tolerable, but seven in a row is overkill and none rise above mediocrity.
On top of that, he morphs into Charles Spurgeon on the self-righteous tip with “Scandalous Hoes II,” despite the fact he just spent close to 40 minutes pandering the same people he’s now admonishing. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would be proud, but the average listener would be hard pressed to sympathize with him.
It’s easy to see why the album title was changed from The Voice Of The Streets to The Voice, dude never leaves the bedroom. Mike Jones may be a decent rapper, but he’s lyrically only a step above Dick and Jane. Meaning his production and guest spots have as much to do with whether a song is good as he does. Sadly, in what would usually be a commendable feat, he goes for dolo most of the album. Factor in a slew of generic cuts that cater predominately to females, equates to Mike Jones still in search of his voice.
The Voice Bonus Tracks
Download — Mike Jones Feat. UGK – “I Got It”