Juvenile’s place in history is already cemented. That much is not up for debate.
In addition to “Back That Azz Up,” his early albums, filled with descriptive street narratives of what was at the time a nearly lawless New Orleans, have influenced the next generation of southern superstars.
Unfortunately, as influential as he is, on his latest album, The Fundamentals, Juvie tries out some of Hip-Hop’s current tropes and finds them to be an uncomfortable fit. Between nondescript, at times derivative, production and forgettable subject matter, The Fundamentals is a flawed album that will make you long for the times that the Hot Boys and Mannie Fresh ruled the airwaves.
Still got it
As evidenced by his relatively recent appearance on Curren$y’s excellent New Jet City mixtape, the former Hot Boy can still spit. He holds his own with Jeezy and Yo Gotti on the album’s opener “Pay The Rent,” his trademark New Orleans drawl seemingly gaining more character with each line. On “Close Around,” Juvie maintains his close ties to the streets, with a willingness to get active at a moment’s notice. Tribe talked about the ‘hood having “8 Million Stories,” and Juvie uses his sharp attention to detail to tell a few of his own on “Tales From The Hood.” So yes, Juvenile still has some chops but…
What more can I say
With few exceptions, the album’s subject matter is so well-worn that it’s nearly transparent. That in and of itself is not as big a problem as its execution. There is nothing here that you haven’t heard before from Juvie, or anyone else really–save for the mildly entertaining “Super High.” You’ve got your girl song (“This Your Song”), your big-name feature (the aforementioned “Pay The Rent”), and the song about selling dope (“All Over”). Most of these tropes show up on Hip-Hop albums in some form or another, but few artists present them as blandly as Juvie does on The Fundamentals.
My kingdom for Mannie Fresh
The store-brand faux DJ Mustard production on “Kill Kill” is just the worst example of the unimaginative production that plagues The Fundamentals. Once you hear the familiar-sounding, slowly emerging-from-underwater intro on “Let ‘Em Know,” you’ll know that the only thing novel about the song is that it features Juvenile’s son Young Juve. Frequent Lil’ Boosie collaborator Mouse On Tha Track provides one of the album’s only high points with the bass-heavy “Livewire.” The track seems the only one substantial enough to match up to Juvie’s church deacon-like vocals.
Short, but not so sweet
Thankfully, at only ten songs and a running time of a little over 30 minutes, The Fundamentals will only steal a little bit of your time. However, not unlike a slow starting film that you hope rights course in the third act but instead ends abruptly, the album’s brevity also makes its shortcomings stand out even more. If you’re a die-hard fan or something of a Juvie collector, then go ahead and plunk down your your 12 bucks. Otherwise, your time may be better served revisiting 400 Degreez or Tha G Code.