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Mixx DJ Competition 2002, with Mystikal. Saturday, July 20, at the Agora Theatre.

We may never get back the true Mystikal, the real Mystikal, the Mystikal who put his skills on the table first, then looked around for some well-deserved ass. That was the Mystikal of "Y'all Ain't Ready Yet," and indeed we weren't. When the New Orleans rapper dropped that single in 1995, it was like a fresh amyl nitrite tablet cracked under the nose of rap fans all over the South. Even during his days as just another of Master P's No Limit Soldiers in the late '90s, he was the most gung-ho of the bunch, keeping his manic energy and even more hectic wordplay intact.

But then he met up with superstar producers the Neptunes on his Let's Get Ready album, and, to put it in pimp terms, they turned his ass out. When he unleashed the big-booty anthem "Shake Ya Ass" in 2000, an unnecessary new Mystikal rose from the ashes. Sure, he's still an MC who could blow folks away with his vocal style. But now, it isn't about being the most lyrically dangerous MC on the mic; it's about being the most bling-blinging, booty-collecting, collar-popping MC on the mic. And Mystikal's latest, Tarantula, further chronicles his dwindling legitimacy. There are glimmers of the Mystikal of yore, but once you get into the title track, where Mystikal describes himself as, among other things, a "black Elvis Presley," the ass-blasting, mind-melting MC is replaced by the ego-tripping one.

But with the rap game already filled with opportunistic muthafuckas looking for nothing but sistas with big asses, Mystikal should get back to shaking things up, exposing those cats for the platinum-grilled, full-of-shit frauds that they are -- before he completely becomes one of them. Don't worry, man, the big-assed sistas will still be there for you.

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