Rap Pages - 11/96, p.34
"...[UGK] hit hard with consistent flows and passionately delivered concepts....[I]t was good to hear something that wasn't preachy or teachy or territorial or controversial..."
Underground Kingz: Pimp C, Bun B.
Additional personnel: Ronnie Spencer, 3-2, Reginald Hackett, Big Smokin' Mitch, N.O. Joe (vocals); Corey "Funkafangas" Stoot (guitar, bass); Leo Nocentelli, Wayne Bonton (guitar); Skip Holman (piano); Dave Torkanowsky, Mike Harris (keyboards); Chris Severin (bass); C. Butler, Kristi Floyd (background vocals).
Producers: Pimp C (tracks 1, 3-5, 12-13); Pimp C, 3-2 (track 2); Sergio (tracks 6, 11); N.O. Joe (tracks 7-9); N.O. Joe, Pimp C (track 10).
Engineers: Tony Smalios (track 5); Dawn Jo (track 10).
Samples include "Future Shock" (as performed by Curtis Mayfield), "Backstrokin'" (as performed by The Fatback Band), "Munchies For Your Love" (as performed by Bootsy Collins) and "Angel" (as performed by Wes Montgomery).
Gangsta rap, from the Lone Star State. This disc is straight-up real, no punches pulled, from first cut to last--and you know these guys are from down south, when "ten" sounds like "tee-an." The good news is that RIDIN' DIRTY also has its fair share of listenable, soulful rap music. From the first cut, which samples the Isley Brothers' "Ain't I Been Good to You," Underground Kingz show good taste in backing music. "Pinky Ring," a smooth, flowing paean to pimpdom, samples Curtis Mayfield's "Future Shock." Even jazz-guitar great Wes Montgomery gets a nod, in the title track.
The songs are about drug dealing and street life, and the Kingz see both sides of that glimmering, dangerous coin: "One day you're here, baby, and then you're gone." The lyrics are as rough and raw as it gets. But throughout, UGK manage to walk that fine line between singing the praises of gang/drug life, and realizing, always realizing, that it's a one-way street to either the boneyard or the big house.
Personnel: Reginald Hackett (vocals, background vocals); 3-2 (vocals); Cory Stoot, Leo Nocentelli (guitar); Skip Holman (piano); David Torkanowsky, Mike Harris (keyboards); N.O. Joe (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: N.O. Joe.
Recording information: Bangin' Studios; Battery Studios; Studio G.
Photographer: Keith Bardin.
Unknown Contributor Role: Ronnie Spencer.
UGK's third album, Ridin' Dirty, is their first to be released by a major label, which gives you some sort of indication of how far the group has gone in four short years. In that span of time, UGK scaled to the top of the small but vicious hip-hop scene in the Southern United States, creating a distinctive gangsta hybrid in the process. UGK is just as hedonistic and materialistic as those rappers out on the West Coast, but they don't infuse their music with the deep funk of the Cali scene, nor do they revel in the buoyant bass of their Miami brethren. Instead, they take a more stripped-down approach, which is all the better to hear their celebrations of money, drugs, women -- all of the typical gangsta accessories. If UGK doesn't really have something new to say, at least they have come up with an engaging way to say it -- the sound of their record is vibrant and direct, bringing you right into the thick of things. It's not exceptional gangsta rap, but it is entertaining. ~ Leo Stanley