Houston Music

UGK: UGK 4 Life

Forthrightly, UGK 4 Life, the seventh official LP (and first official swan song) from the Port Arthur princes, is various levels of great. From the opening waves of Pimp C's ethereal intro — where he softly buzzes about being "back from the dead" — to the barefaced hurt of Bun B's outro (never has he sounded so completely aware of how meaningful UGK is/was), 4 Life is almost perfectly saturated with the goopy bass and unrefined lag of the crack-rap genre UGK pioneered. Contributions from Snoop Dogg, Too Short, E-40 and 8Ball & MJG all vary between above average and excellent, but ultimately act as auxiliary accompaniment to Bun's crispness and Pimp's interminable tug. Were it not for the adenoidal Akon wandering onto the album with the same hokey "Look, I'm Singing Softly But It's About Illicit Content" shtick, 4 Life would've almost been hip-hop divinity. At times, it's hard to tell exactly how much Pimp's passing swells the overall importance of this album. You can't help but be sad when you realize that, beyond studio throwaways and a few unreleased gems, this is it. But objectively, 4 Life is at least as emotive as 1996's Ridin' Dirty and as essential as 1992's Hard to Swallow.
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Shea Serrano