Though members of his Cash Money posse have left him behind for better and worse, even Lil Wayne’s rise to international superstardom hasn’t deterred Juvenile’s self belief. As evidenced by his newly titled LP, Cocky & Confiident Juvenile still considers himself on of Hip-Hop’s leading men. All swagger aside those who dig in to this album shouldn’t expect any innovation: it’s the same old Juvenile, also for better and worse.
The elements that made him successful are still there: a God-given Hip-Hop Gangsta delivery, a sense of humor and an ear for choruses and southern beats. The subject matter is exactly what you’d expect: money , hustlin’ and the good life. Standout tracks occur when Juve finds a particularly good beat to flow over. “Back Back,” captures a little of the old magic thanks to a booming bass and a particularly well delivered “I’m on my sheeeeeeeeeet” on the chorus that sticks in your craw. Juve puts on for his city and himself on “New Orleans Stunna,” and captures the raw shit talking of his best moment,“Ha,” on the similarly structured “I Say.”
But Cocky & Confiident’s weaknesses can’t be covered up. Juvenile seriously misses the lyrical support of Cash Money compatriots, (Kango Slim is not the next Lil’ Wayne, even the “Get Off the Corner” version,) and there’s no chemistry on the posse tracks such as lead single “We Getting Money.” No Mannie Fresh hurts too, although Juve’s production squad does a reasonable job of imitating the now ubiquitous Southern bounce. Attempts to integrate more modern Hip-Hop trends don’t come off as well—whomever green-lighted Juve to cover Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart” has a sick sense of humor.
At 19 tracks, Cocky & Confiident will grind down even the most loyal Juvenile fan. The album works better in four track doses of Southern swagger. Lyrically, Juvenile’s consistent: he’s still many levels better than your average MySpace rapper, and that talent holds the project together. But he plays it safe lyrically, limited either by his skill or ambition. There’s moments of humor “girl you’re looking for change, you want Barack Obama” but plenty of formulaic laziness as well “I smoke the best shit, you smoke mid-grade.” As always with Juvenile, you’ll enjoy yourself more if you focus on how he sounds and less on what he’s saying.
No one can deny Juvenile’s place in Hip-Hop history, or that he’s had a successful career. But over a decade after “Ha” and “Back Dat Azz Up,” Cocky & Confiident shows no musical or lyrical growth. As Southern Gangtsa mood music, the album and Juve deliver, but it’s as far from groundbreaking as you’ll find as the decade closes out.