SuperStar of the Ghetto
A young buck with a mind full of schemes and lungs full of smoke, neophyte Houston rapper Rapsta neither walks softly nor carries a big stick. On his debut, SuperStar of the Ghetto, he lets you know from the start that he's a grown man who can conk you over the head with his words quicker than he could with his hand.
Rapsta comes from the Lil' Troy school of Houston rap. He's a playa, not a hater. For Rapsta, it's not about rollin' in a low rider, bandanna strapped to the forehead, Tec-9 resting on his lap, with his seat reclined way back so he can sneak up on perpetrators and pop caps in their asses. To him, it's about wearing argyle sweater-vests, gold and ice. It's about cruising Houston streets in a souped-up, hand-polished Benz. Being a playa isn't just a cliché, a trend, a trading card. It's a philosophy, fool.
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On SuperStar, Rapsta shares his attitude with all playas-in-training out there. Unlike many of Houston's hard-core rappers, Rapsta is not a brooding lad. The boy raps as if every night were his last chance for freedom before getting married the next day. Imagine a svelte version of Eightball, and you have Rapsta.
SuperStar is the melding of ghetto glam-rap's panache with a hustler's state of mind. Rapsta may be a balla, but he's a balla who gets nutty when you mess with his money, as evidenced in his own Donnie Brasco-type melodrama "Carlos." ("He pulled out a police badge / Then he peeled off his mustache / He pulled his gun / I pulled my gun / We both ready to blast.") And with song titles like "Make That Money," "Livin' Large" and "All Riches," you can tell Rapsta's all about making that loot; though he's also all about getting that ass. Rapsta gets his mack on in the tunes "Lovers Are Friends" and "Freaky Hoes," in which he advises promising ghetto groupies not to go the Lewinsky route, sharing themselves then sharing the info. ("Freaky hoes / Be the best hoes / Freaky hoes / Keep their mouths closed.")
Usual homeboy histrionics aside, the thing that makes SuperStar float above the usual local rap crap is the tight and taut production work. While Rapsta and a few others produce some well-executed tracks (Rapsta co-produces the humorous, scratch-and-sop, old school-style tune "No, No"), veteran producer Grizz is the man who brings out the best beats. Heavy on bass and swarming with synthesizer-strewn '80s samples, the work of Grizz, a guy who must believe that the world's most significant music was written ten years ago, transcends mere flashiness. It brings a retro-liveliness to such tracks as "Ghetto Superstar" (not the Pras version), "Stop Stunin'" and "Ball Till I Fall."
Rapsta may be "just like a pimp without the cane and the Kangol," but he's smart enough to know that fly beats make a fly style.