Juvenile’s Beast Mode sounds like the name of a summer blockbuster. And like an action-packed mega-hit movie, the album is heavy on big explosions and light on substance. The explosions come in the form of trunk-rattling bass and highpowered synths. Juvenile, who carved his name in hip-hop lore with a gritty debut album that put Cash Money Records on the map, is also famous in mainstream pop circles for the timeless party-anthem “Back That Ass Up.”
For Beast Mode, Juvie takes the approach that got him recognized for the latter, choosing to pack his project with club anthems and odes to the fairer sex’s rumps. Though the results aren’t as legendary as “Back That Ass Up,” Beast Mode has enough high-octane tracks to make for a serviceable Saturday night soundtrack.
The most blatant attempt at recreating the multi-platinum magic from a decade ago is the radiofriendly “Drop That Thang,” inviting ladies to drop, toss, and throw their bums to the sound of Juvenile’s playful punch lines over claps and blaring horns. “Pussy Kat” offers minimalist production reminiscent of the Ying Yang Twins’ “Whisper Song,” with Juvenile spouting raunchy lines like “When I hit that spot / I got you screaming for a n***a like you just got shot.”
Lyrically, Juvenile’s flow is back to its old form. He tears through beats with nimble dexterity that shows he’s only improved with time. Just look at the metaphors and polysyllabic rhyme scheme on “Where They Do That At.” Unfortunately, while the ability to ride the beat is intact, Juvenile tends to fill his bars with vapid clichés about women, money and lots of booze. Yes, Juvie is still a beast, but he may want to find some more substance to sink his teeth into next time.