On his debut, City of Syrup, rapper Big Moe mainly wants everyone to know that he doesn't just drink soda laced with cough syrup -- he bows down to it. Moe raps about the carbonated codeine cocktail as if it were a miracle elixir, a dose from the Fountain of Eternally Fucked Up. If he had his way, the drink would be served in jumbo Styrofoam cups at every convenience store and coffee shop. Like that scene in Silent Movie in which Mel Brooks buys an absurdly large bottle of alcohol so he and his wino brethren can douse themselves in the liquid, Syrup conjures up the image of Big Moe bathing in root beer and Robitussin.
Apparently he's not alone in his way of thinking. Syrup is the city's hottest-selling rap release and has made Moe the underground rapper all fellow lean drinkers want to hang with. If this keeps up, Moe could do for syrup what Dr. Dre's The Chronic did for weed. Moe finally has created an album that reveals Houston as the bizarro drug town only people in the know have been hip to. Beginning the album with the "Hard Knock Life"-esque track "Barre Baby," Moe does a likable job of foreshadowing the narcotic flights of fancy that are yet to come. Moe's flow is bellowing, chesty and soulfully melodious, making his lyrics of excessive codeine use even more vivid. ("I'm a let you know / How to let the potion flow / Can't nobody sip more than Moe.") Like most Dirty Third rappers, Moe is also a child of '80s R&B. He revamps urban-radio standards like Zapp's "Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)," Prince's "Pop Life" and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's " I Wonder If I Take You Home" to his leisurely advantage.
Like most local rappers, he has a hair-trigger sense of timing, which he overdoes on a couple of tunes. It may be a bit too soon for Moe to capitalize on the success of Black Rob's "Whoa!" with his own take called "Maan!" which is just as grating. And he shouldn't be so quick to snatch the rhythm of "Maria Maria," the other overplayed Santana tune, on "Payin' Dues," although interjecting Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" was a nice touch.
The album is littered with appearances from other rappers and colleagues, like Lil' O, ESG, Big Pokey and that underground rap overlord DJ Screw. It's just another example of how Big Moe likes to share his (liquid) wealth with those around him.