UGK Underground Kingz

UGK Underground Kingz
Timing is everything, just ask UGK. The Texas duo of Pimp C and Bun B released the seminal Southern rap thesaurus, 1996’s Ridin’ Dirty, and literally stayed true to their moniker until they transcended their status as regional pioneers when they appeared on Jay-Z’s "Big Pimpin’.” But momentum for 2001’s subsequent Dirty Money was scuttled by label limbo and flat-lined by Pimp C’s incarceration for aggravated assault. With Bun B’s unwavering support for his partner ultimately raising the profile of the group, the duo have finally reunited on this double CD effort boasting 26 tracks. Anchored by Pimp C’s seductive, slow-rolling funk and synth-dependent production, Underground Kingz has a largely consistent sonic palette, allowing the yin-yang chemistry of Bun B’s reasoned baritone and Pimp C’s wild-eyed, profane outbursts to coalesce. Eager to make up for lost opportunities, the duo have plenty of help on their "country rap tunes.” Andre 3000 contributes a hall of fame verse for Outkast’s appearance on the Three 6 Mafia-scored "International Players’ Anthem,” while the duo reach beyond their Southern roots, tapping Too Short, Marley Marl and Big Daddy Kane, and Willie D of Geto Boys fame for guest slots that also double as tributes. The latter appears on "Quit Hatin’ the South,” a track that brings things right up to date, lambasting the East coast’s dismissal of Southern hip-hop’s dominance. While Talib Kweli and Dizzee Rascal providing credence and polar opposite ruminations on women, soon the guest list is overflowing with dubious contributors and results. I mean, who invited Rick Ross? While a leaner track selection would have benefited the duo, the record’s audacity begs the question: if now isn’t the time for UGK to benefit from their underdog status, when is? (Sony BMG)