Pop Life

Everybody’s Talkin’: U.G.K.'s Underground Kingz

And now we present Everybody’s Talkin’, a new feature in which we hip you to what the nation is saying about Houston's own.

First up, U.G.K.'s Underground Kingz...

XXL’s Brendan Frederick bestowed the record four stars out of five. The album “reaffirms the UGK ideals for a new generation. The album mainly sidesteps the “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” pitfall of most rap double albums by adhering to Pimp C’s core production sound – “steeped in bluesy wah-wah guitars, soul melodies and chunky bass.” There’s that, and “the heart of the UGK appeal,” which “lies in the richness of [Bun B and Pimp C’s] chemistry.” Bun is the “thoughtful idealist,” while Pimp assumes to role of the “loud-mouthed realist,” as exemplified by “How Long Can It Last.”

Misfires include the redundant, “mediocre” duo of car songs (“Candy” and “Chrome Plated Woman”) and the “Lil Jon–helmed club dud ‘Like That.’”

Still, the duo has “finally got what they’ve been seeking all along: respect.”

Tom Breihan at Pitchforkmedia.com awarded the record 8.4 out of ten and called it an “equally frustrated and vindicated album” on which Pimp C and Bun B “wield their legacy like a club.” While “plenty of fat could easily have been trimmed” that’s a mere “quibble” set alongside standout cuts like “Int’l Playas Anthem” which “finds UGK in an uncharacteristically euphoric mood, and it just might be my favorite song of the year” and "The Game Belongs to Me: “an irrefutable declaration of supremacy, so warm and effortless that Bun and Pimp's voices sound like they're bubbling up from the track.”

Speaking from the bully pulpit the Old Gray Lady, Kelefa Sanneh called Underground Kingz a “solid to a fault” double-album on which “kilos are sold, foes are threatened, cars are painted and repainted, prostitutes are put in their place.” “But you can also hear a bracing kind of clarit, and maybe it’s the kind that comes with age.” Throughout the album, the duo looks “back fondly on the world that made them. It’s nostalgia, but if anything, it’s nostalgia for a crueler world, not a gentler one. All these years later, their seeming nihilism seems more like integrity: a clear-eyed commitment to an old-fashioned ideal, despite its contradictions.”

(Reviews compiled by John Nova Lomax)

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