Yung Joc – Hustlenomics
When you go platinum your first time out, anything less than a mil on your sophomore effort is going to be considered a failure. A little over a year ago Yung Joc rode (remember the dance?) the success of the Nitti-produced “It’s Goin’ Down” straight to the top as his debut album New Joc City surprised fans and solidified Joc as a force to be reckoned with. After a very public split with producer Nitti, Joc is back with a new team of hitmakers to prove that New Joc City was no fluke.
Yung Joc’s got the game figured out. The spellcheck-challenged MC is steps ahead of others in the crowded lane of rappers grasping aimlessly for commercial viability. To start with, Yung Joc lowered expectations for lyrics by stating in interviews that having lyrics wasn’t really his thing. He was more about making music that you could get down to. If anything, you have to appreciate his honesty.
If you think the theme of being a “hustler” was played out in rap music by now, well, you are probably right. But that doesn’t stop Yung Joc and his cronies from naming the album Hustlenomics and dedicating skits and songs to, yep, you guessed it, hustling. Perhaps the lamest attempt at this theme is the single “Coffee Shop,” which has Yung Joc and Gorilla Zoe equating selling second-hand and maybe even some illegal goods to running a Starbucks. And yes, there had to be a line (or two) in there playing off of Starbucks as Yung Joc raps, “Welcome to Starblock.” Perhaps the most confusing line of the song is Gorilla Zoe claiming that he’s “Stepping on the scene as I tilt my hat/Like Pat Sajak, bring anything back.” Apparently the host of Wheel of Fortune can “bring anything back.” Honestly, I thought dude just told contestants if they guessed the right letter, if they could buy a vowel and if they solved the puzzle. Also, let’s not forget how flawlessly dude can spin the wheel when they’re running low on time and have to go to the hurry-up round. And while dude is a master of idle chatter with Vanna White and the winner while the credits roll, I’m still not sure where he fits into the concept of running a bootleg store/drug operation that’s run like a coffee shop.
Gorilla Zoe drops more questionable lines with, “Got so many whips, they call me ‘Whipalicious.’” I know if anyone calls me anything with “-alicious” attached at the end, they’re getting knocked out.
“Bottle Poppin” is another single and follows the traditional “I got money, we party, girls like us and we get crazy.” “Cut Throat” has Joc crossing state lines with Game and Jim Jones to do more than just sightsee. Over a grimy Fixxers beat, everyone thumps their chest and talks about how their friends are killers. After listening to this song, you’ll think twice about inviting these fellas to your birthday party.
“Play Your Cards” is a pleasant bright spot on Hustlenomics. Over a horn-heavy Cool and Dre banger that could be mistaken for a Runners production, Joc pulls the song off with an energy and freshness you wish he could bring to everything he did.
Predictability is probably what drags this album down the most. “I’m A G” is about how they have money and get girls, which is sort of like “Coffee Shop” in a way. “Getting To Da Money” is about getting to the money over a gritty Jon Boii Productions, LLC beat, which is one of the strongest musical tracks on the album.
You can also look at the predictability of Hustlenomics as its strongest feature. Yung Joc promised he was going to give you something that you could listen to but he said he didn’t care about blowing your mind with lyrics. Joc accomplished this. You can expect the beats to sound polished and song topics about what the titles say they’re about. There are really no surprises on Hustlenomics, but fans should know better than to check for Yung Joc to pull off an album full of twists, turns and surprises. Instead, the feature-heavy Hustlenomics plays like a collection of singles, which is probably just fine for Yung Joc and the million-plus that supported his last effort.
by Brian Kayser