Hip-hop history is littered with middling records made by teenagers. For every Shyheim, there’s a Kriss Kross, a Bow Wow and a Lil Romeo. Even good adolescent rappers like Illegal and Da Youngstas rarely got much further than a few strong early singles. Needless to say, a pair of dirt-poor 16-year olds from hip-hop backwater Baton Rough, Louisiana, weren’t supposed to release one of the most impressive debuts of the decade. Then again, most teenagers don’t have Pimp C presiding over their investiture either–which in this case, involved informing the world of their festish for “fucking with [my] diamonds on.”
Boosie had risen through the ranks of C-Loc’s Concentration Camp in the late 90s, and dropped a little heard solo album, Da Youngest of Da Camp in 2000, but Ghetto Stories operates as an official debut of sorts. What’s most striking about is how hardened and war-torn Webbie and Boosie sound. Boosie’s amyl nitrate bark is brutal and cold-blooded. Webbie is at his most savage. Consider it a country-rap analogue to The Infamous–perhaps not on that rarefied level, but matching it round for round with a fury that you can’t fake.
On the aptly titled, “Keep it Gutta,” Boosie wishes, “2Pac could hear the shit that I be spitting to you, I bet 2Pac would have Lil Boosie on an album of two.” Judging from this, there’s little doubt they would’ve traded war stories. –Jeff Weiss