I haven’t been sleeping well lately. See, there’s this one question that’s been weighing heavy on my mind. Night after night I stare at my bedroom ceiling and wonder, is Trina still the baddest b**tch?
Now let’s take a moment to truly pontificate on that question.
First things first, if Trina’s still the baddest, then there must have been a time when she was the baddest (presumably starting in 2000 when she dropped the aptly titled Da Baddest B**ch).
Is that true?
Well, in 2000 the obvious competition for Trina was Foxy Brown, who was on her way out of the spotlight, and Lil Kim, who was at the height of her chart-topping powers but had lost a little bit of her nasty edge. If this were the 2000 Baddest B**ch Olympics, it’d be close, but I’d have to give the gold to Kim.
What a difference eight years makes. As we kick off 2008, there can no longer be any question that Miami’s finest female rapper is now the baddest b**tch. Kim’s fallen off (due in part to some jail time), Remy Ma’s not a serious contender (again with the prison sentence), and there doesn’t seem to be any young challenger on the horizon. But a true champion knows they have to defend their title, and so Trina has decided to remind the world who’s queen with her fourth album, Still Da Baddest. Actually, she decided to declare her rule months ago, but due to repeated album delays her queendom’s been on hold.
Well, the moment of truth has finally arrived. Can Trina recover from her notorious break-up with Weezy F.? Will we look back at this album as a career-best? How many times can I possibly write “b**ch” in one review? Let’s find out.
In the age of reality TV and internet porn, it’s almost impossible to shock the public anymore, but Trina gives it her best shot on "Look Back At Me." In case you forgot, Trina’s from Miami, more specifically the strip clubs of Miami, and the simple bounce and clap beat on "Look Back At Me" serves as the perfect setting for Trina to spit lyrics so obscene they’d make R. Kelly blush. But forgotten amidst all the golden shower and pearl necklace references (references you’re probably better off not understanding) is the fact that "Look Back" might be Trina’s weakest flow on the album. Apparently she was so focused on shocking us, she forgot she needed to actually flow too, and unfortunately the same goes for guest feature Killer Mike.
By comparison, "Phone Sexx," Trina’s geisha-sounding ode to long-distancing loving, is much better. If Trina is telling the truth when she says she’s “125 pounds” then she’s the only phone sex operator who’s honest, but regardless, Trina uses her wickedly clever rhyme-style to more than accomplish her freaky mood-setting mission. Sometimes Trina’s so bad she’s good ("Phone Sexx") and sometimes she’s so bad she’s just bad ("Look Back"), but either way, she’s still the baddest.
Lil Kim learned a long time ago that lines like, “I know how to f**k, I know how to ride,” might get attention, but they also make radio programmers cringe in fear. That’s why Trina’s toned down Still Da Baddest (notice she dropped “B***h” from the album title), starting with her attempt to put a rap spin on the “empowered single woman” message Keyshia Cole’s been using so successfully, "I Got A Thang For You." The record features Trina laying down surprisingly subdued verses, and of course some typically excellent vocals from Keyshia, but I’m still not sure "I Got A Thang For You" has enough tear-jerker appeal to find mainstream success.
Everyone knows that if you need a hit you need Lil Wayne on the track, or at least do a song about your relationship with him. That’s exactly the appeal behind "Single Again," the defiantly strong single that’s sure to have all the single ladies in the club toasting to Trina’s “better off without you” flow. Somehow I doubt Trina will be single for long, especially after this song earns her some well-deserved income.
Unfortunately, most female MCs are forced to either play the “tougher than the guys” or the “damsel in distress” role just be heard and Still The Baddest is ultimately the record of Trina walking the line between those two extremes. But in the end, all that matters is that Trina has convincingly held onto the baddest b**ch crown, at least until a serious challenger steps up.
Anyone? Anyone? Hello?