Dubb Sicks and I-45

Lifestyles of the Sick and Fameless, and I-45 (Backyard Recordings)

Texas Platters

Dubb Sicks

Lifestyles of the Sick and Fameless (Backyard Recordings)

I-45

With 2008's Mind in the Gutter, Dubb Sicks established himself as Austin's pre-eminent degenerate rapper at the age of 23. On this second album, the Odessa-born MC flips his game, toning down the shock and front-loading Lifestyles with choice cuts ("Just to Make Ya'll Feel It," "Not So Very Far From Home") that didn't seem in his wheelhouse two years ago. "Rapstar the Superhero" and "My Girlfriend Hates It" suggest Sicks has a ways to go, but his progress is palpable, and he knows it ("Sharper lyrics, better beats, better mixing, more production"). Houston's I-45 breaks off a comparable dose of miscreant banter on its self-titled fourth LP, evoking Dr. Dre's "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" on "Bring the Pain" and riffing about immigration via N.W.A gangster rap on "Green Card." Fourteen songs is too much, though. Aside from a beer-drenched take on Willie Nelson's "Devil in a Sleeping Bag," I-45 proves a bit much of a single flow.

(Dubb Sicks) ***

(I-45) **

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