Album: St Lunatics

Free City, Universal
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The Independent Culture

It's great, so the old gag goes, to be king – maybe even as much fun as being a member of Nelly's posse the St Lunatics (Nelly, Ali, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan and City Spud), whose bigging of their hometown St Louis makes it seem like homeboy heaven on earth, replete with enough weed, women and luxury car dealerships to keep the lads' minds off the gunplay that dominates the bi-coastal rap mindset. Well, for a while, at least: it's unlikely that City Spud's currently serving 10 years for parking violations. Hence the title Free City, although it could just as easily refer to relaxed life in the midwest gateway, which according to tracks like "Summer In The City" is all about cruising with the top down, smoking blunts, ogling babes and, er, shooting people in the head. Though that last could, I suppose, just be a metaphor. Like the Jurassic 5, the St Lunatics return hip-hop to something like its more welcoming, inclusive Old Skool origins; with singalong chants like "Honk your horn twice if your missus lookin' pretty" and "I love it when you make your knees touch your elbows", there's a bawdy adolescent innocence to their celebrations of hedonism that's reminiscent of American Graffiti. And unlike most rap crews riding a talented mate's coat-tails, each St Lunatic brings his own distinct personality to the mix, especially the precocious Murphy Lee, surely bound for great things in his own right.