Juvenile crossed paths with Cash Money in the mid/late 90’s and later formed the group UTP Playas (UTP is for Uptown Project) and UTP Records after leaving Cash Money. Reality Check is recorded on that label, under Asylum. I have to admit I’m not a big Juvenile fan. I liked Soulja Rags and 400 Degreez but was very disappointed with 600 Degreez. A funny side note on Juvenile is that he found Young Buck and made him a member of UTP Playas. Buck later connected with 50 Cent while being with Juvenile in L.A.
2. Get ya hustle on
The album starts of with an encouragement for people to get your hustle on. Juvenile says he lost his house and everything with it in Hurricane Katrina and that he has to hustle more than ever. The beat on the song has a smooth but heavy bass with a dirty south flavour to it.
3. Around the way
Around the way is about Juvenile – where he’s at and where he’s from. In my opinion, Juve has a special way to rap and it’s coming out real good on this track. One again he’s flowing over a tight beat and the album sounds real tight 2 tracks deep.
4. Sets go up feat. Wacko
Juvenile continue with a more up-tempo track without the beat lowering the standard of the cut. The Magnolia rapper is dissing people that didn’t believe in him and worked against him over the years and up till this day. Wacko comes in on the last verse with a different type of flow than Juvenile and diversifies the track in a good way.
Rodeo is the first single of the album, and it’s a good pick. This slow jam is a tribute to all the hot girls out there and considering the type of songs that get a lot of airplay it seems like a good song to put on the radio and TV. The way Juvenile looks in the video actually reminds me of Ja Rule. Still, he manages to not completely sell out and lose respect. Nice cut.
6. What’s happenin’
Juvenile mix story-telling rap with ole fashion southern bragging on this one. I guess he’s telling us What’s happenin’. The beats so far has been real tight but this one is weak to me. It might be that I’m not into the old South sound. All in all it’s an ok song but more or less a filler to me.
7. Loose booty feat Eightball & Skip
You can probably guess what Loose booty is about. She’s got a Loose booty. Eightball and Skipp can back it upp, too. I think we all know what Eightball can do by now, but Skipp is a pretty new rapper to people not into the UTP Playas. I’ve heard Skip before and he’s impressed me. I’m looking forward to a solo effort from him. This track? It’s allright.
8. Way I be leanin’ feat. Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Skip & Wacko
Swishahouse came in on this one to keep it crunk. The beat sounds like something Lil Jon would put together and the two outside guests Mike Jones and Paul Wall help taking it to the next level. I’m guessing this is the second single – enough said.
9. Break a brick down
Break a brick down has a bass similar to Get ya hustle on but with a lil more speed to it. That’s a good thing. Overall the beats have kept a high quality throughout the album this far and that’s an important ingredient for a hit record. Juve’s saying he’s “Going platinum from talking about my lifetime” and if he’s referring to this album he just might be right. He’s also saying “Everybody wants to be the king of something, I guess I’ll just be the king of hustling”. That pretty much sum up the subject of this song.
10. Who’s ya daddy
Next song in line is a kind of up-tempo bouncy song. In Who’s ya daddy, Juvenile speak to the girls again saying he’s gonna ***** them etc. The hook’s pretty catchy and the beat is tight so all in all it’s a real tight track.
11. I know you know feat. Trey Songz
Trey Songz has gotten a lot of attention lately and I was really feeling that first single of his where he talked about how he used to be poor and fight hard to get a chance. Every time a big RnB singer comes on a track you know it’s gonna be a real smooth cut. I know you know is no exception. I hate when singers just look for those opportunities to take high tones, as if the listeners are supposed to be impressed or something. Trey Songz doesn’t do this and I appreciate that. His effort is solid. I wouldn’t think Juveniles voice would be good for a slow jam like this, but his flow actually fits real well with the guitars and all other instruments on this cut.
12. Keep Talkin’ feat. Skipp & Red Eyezz
Keep talking on the side of your mouth and get smacked. That’s the message with this track. It’s an other Lil Jon type of track with the whistles and all that stuff. I’m sure a lot of people are feeling this track but I’m not one of them.
13. Rock like that feat Bun B
I’m a big Bun B fan. Every time he’s on a track it’s a banger (with a few exceptions). The beat on Rock like that is hard hitting and the instruments complete the full picture. Bun B come in with a real tight verse taking the track to the next level. Arguably the best track on the album.
14. Why not feat. Skip
Looks like Skip is the next UTP Playa to drop a solo album. He’s on a lot of tracks here and it’s a classic move to put your unknown rapper on your album to hype him. Snoop and Hittman are probably the best examples. This track is real tight but considering the other songs on this album it’s average. It fills its purpose though – I’m gonna check Skips album out when it drops.
Animal is an other one of those Lil Jon sounding tracks. The production actually use a monkey-sound in the background to illustrate how Juvi’s an animal. The track’s allright, but could’ve been cut.
16. Addicted feat. Brian McKnight
Addicted is pretty much a Brian McKnight solo track. Juvenile’s doing some talking between McKnight’s singing but the RnB singer pretty much makes the song. It’s a real mellow jam and might be nice to play with a girl at your place. Still, I don’t really see why this is on Juveniles album…
17. Holla back
Holla back is one of those southern songs that is trying to hype you up and get you crunk. Even thought I kind of like the song, it doesn’t really fill its purpose. It’s not all that tight. The beat’s pretty tight but not tight enough to make you wanna get up and get crunk. Like I said, it’s still an allright song.
18. Pop U feat. Fat Joe & Ludacris
Any time you have Fat Joe and Ludacris guesting you on a track, you know it’s gonna be tight. Juvenile does his thing on his verse just like he’s been doing for all of this album, and when Ludacris comes on on the second verse I can’t help but feeling like he can do better than this. I mean Ludacris is Ludacris, don’t get me wrong, but we all know what he can do. He’s not really doing it on this one. Fat Joe comes in on the third verse doing his thing. Probably the best verse on the song flow wise. All in all a real tight track.
19. Say it to me now feat. Kango
Last song on the album is kind of different than the other ones production wise. Say it to me now doesn’t have a typical dirty south beat. Juvenile’s talking about how people talk behind his back and should say it to his face instead. Kango really completes the picture. It’s a real soft track and I’m definitely feeling it. It’s a good thing Juvi share his experiences with us listeners and fans.
With Reality Check, Juvenile shows the world that he’s back (if he was ever gone). The album was a lot better than I had expected and all in all I’m definitely going to rate it somewhere above average. Juveniles flow doesn’t fit for all productions, but here he really found a good mix of slow and up-tempo beats where he could shine. Production wise this album was very well made and the mix of a tight rapper on tight beats is always a good thing. Big name guests were combined with less known artists from Juveniles own UTP Playas crew and label. I’d say the rapper managed to find a good mix without overdoing it. Some albums looks like compilations but Juvenile managed to escape that type of criticism. If you’re a Juvenile fan that might have been thinking that Juve fell off lately, get this album and then speak on it. People that didn’t really bump Juvenile before can also check it out and make him a new fan. I rate this album 4 out of 5. Real solid effort.