Reality Check (Atlantic)

You thought Kanye West's post-Katrina thoughts came outta left field? If you read New Orleans rapper Juvenile's allegations that the military deliberately flooded his hometown's poorest wards after the hurricane, you're forgiven for figuring his seventh album is one long conspiracy theory.

In fairness, the former Hot Boy and Cash Money figurehead -- who "lost it all in Katrina" -- has more room to beef than most. But the reality checked most often on his Atlantic debut is of a different variety: specifically, the reality of a landscape in which the crunk sound Juvenile helped pioneer has become dominant. To adapt, he's taken a cue from the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait" and softened his come-ons; "Rodeo" and the Brian McKnight duet "Addicted" make the invitation to shake that azz as romantic as possible. Familiar Mannie Fresh productions add continuity, but new collaborators like Cool & Dre (who provide the double-fisted beat of "Break a Brick Down") give Juve's usual tales of street reality the relevance his political commentary lacks.

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