UGK :: Ridin' Dirty :: Jive Records
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

"Ridin' Dirty" is an undeniable classic. I'll concede that UGK's first two records have both their fans and their detractors, but by the third CD the praise was almost universal. Being that I'm part of the contingent of fans that considers the first three UGK albums equally classic, it's difficult to explain what about "Ridin' Dirty" makes it the preferred choice for old and new UGK fans alike. Pimp C once again handles the production almost by himself, save for two co-productions and two guest producers. The guest spots are also more of the same as we get the underrated Mr. 3-2 dropping a verse and N.O. Joe providing the hook and a verse on another track. The only visual indication that things have gotten better are the liner notes, that jump from a two page insert to a multi-page full color affair complete with all the lyrics from all the songs. Musically, UGK was just as smooth and gangsta as they had ever been making for another funky album that sounds as good in the car as it does at home. So while personally I can't say this is "better" than the first two CDs, I can definitely say "Ridin' Dirty" is another classic album by a legendary group.

The intro sets the tone of the album nicely as one of UGK's locked up homies spits some game and then we get hit with one of the best rap tracks ever. "One Day" is simply one of the most emotional and deep tracks made in hip-hop's short history. First we get Ron Isley's syrupy smooth voice over a slow and super-funky bass line before the drums and main melody hit. The music itself would be classic, but the lyrics make the song so powerful it could make a grown man cry:

"I'm up early cuz ain't enough light in the daytime
Smoked two sweets and soaked these chickens before the clock strike nine
Big nut holder, my boulders smolder on the PA pipes
AK loader as I get swallowed under city lights
Niggas be looking shiest so I look shiest back
Can't show no weakness with these bitches get your life jacked
Man it's a trip where I stay especially for me
Them bitches trying to lock me up for the whole century
They gave my nigga Donnie 40, Dante 19
I wish that we could smoke again and take a tight lean
My world a trip you can ask Bun B bitch I ain't no liar
My man BoBo just lost his baby in a house fire
And when I got on my knees that night to pray
I asked God why he let these killers live and take my homeboy's son away
Man if you got kids show em you love em cuz God jus might call em home
Cuz one day they here and baby the next day they gone"

After such an emotional verse from Pimp C, it's hard not to sing along as Isley kicks in warning us that "one day you here and then you gone." It's actually fitting that a song that has provided so much support to thousands of rap fans who've experienced the death of a loved one over the years was penned and produced by a man who left us much too early. "One Day" was only the first track in what was a complete picture of life in Short Texas. "Murder" deals with the obvious and is the extreme opposite of the first track and explores the hypocrisy that seems to surround the best rappers. On the one hand, Bun B and Pimp C mourn over the senseless loss of life but on the other hand they too will stoop to that level if the situation calls for it:

"Well this Bun B bitch and I'm the king of moving chickens
Not them finger licking, sticking niggas that be tricking
You need a swift kicking, yo ass is ripe for the picking
Now as my pockets thicken, I'm deep thinking
nickel-slipping, you sick when I be clicking
Now take a look at the bigger nigga, malt liquor swigger
Playa hata ditch digger figure my hair trigger
Give a hot one to your liver, you shiver shake and quiver
I'm frivolous if a nigga get wetter than a river
For what it's worth it's the birth of some niggas doing dirt
Fuck her first now clean off the skirt, make the pussy hurt
Mister Master, hit the Swisha faster
Than you people blister bastards
Fucked your sister, passed her
Hit the elbows, for sale yo, brother better have my mail hoe
Before I catch a murder case and go to jail hoe, Hell no
Time to bail hit the trail so we can sell mo fucking yayo, get the scale
No other bullet duckers can shove us,inside this game they better buck us
Cuz the cluckers they love us
make them glass dick suckers check they jelly like Smuckers
I hit like nun-chuckers Cuz Short Texas bring the ruckus
This for my motherfuckers, cooking up cheese to some crooked G's
Rocking up quarter key's to get you hooked with ease
Wanna bes get on your knees feel the squeeze from them HK one three's
From here to over sea's, we do what we please
Don't trip as we flip, light up a dip
I'm breakin' 'em off from they hip to yo lip
Go ask that boy Skip, that nigga Bun rip
With one clip, soon as the gun slip
Now I done whipped out my Barrelli flying through your Pelle Pelle
And some smelly red jelly is dripping out of your belly
Serve them up like a Deli jumped on my cellular telly
Hoe sell it like it's goin' out of style
You can't see me markers so have a motherfucking Sweet and a smile"

Aside from including one of my favorite Bun B verses ever, "Murder" lets us know that life doesn't stop for tragedy and things have to keep moving. "Pinky Ring" features a smooth and ultra funky beat that embodies the concept of a country rap tune, while Pimp C and Bun B indulge in the luxuries of being a rap star and getting the groupies. "Diamonds & Wood" samples an obscure Houston classic (the name of the original evades me, but I'm thinking Mass 187) for the hook and introduced the world to the car culture in Houston. "3 In The Mornin'" lets us know that true hustlers never sleep since the business stays open 24-7. "Touched" lets Bun B and Pimp C show off their storytelling skills as they warn others to mind their own business and not cross the wrong lines. "Fuck My Car" follows and is another hood anthem that got massive rotation in rides as UGK speak on groupies, declaring "they ain't tripping on me, they wanna fuck my car." "That's Why I Carry" finds the duo both venting and explaining to us why they feel compelled to carry guns. "Hi-Life" returns the duo to the more though-provoking lyrics that kicked off the album as Pimp C reflects on his life and his quest to do some good during his lifetime. The group pumps things with a little energy next as "Good Stuff" is a raunchy sex-themed anthem. The title track ends the album, and for those not in the know this track and album was the inspiration for the Chamillionaire hit of the same name. While Cham was tripping on riding clean and getting racially profiled, UGK was proud to be riding dirty and just hoping the cops wouldn't pull them over this time. Of course, the crew also hints at snitches who rat you out and the fact that sometimes, even though you are riding dirty, you know cops had no way of knowing it. The album ends with another interlude from the locked up homie and a few shout outs in the end.

Is "Ridin' Dirty" the best album UGK ever put out? I'd have to answer that question with a "maybe." I'd equally bump any one of the first three UGK albums just as hard today as I did back when I first picked up these CDs, but I can understand that I can be a bit biased. There's no denying that having someone like Ron Isley on the album (even if only in sample form) can make things smoother than before. There's also no denying that an album that sounds specifically made for bumping in your car is probably more laid back than the first two UGK albums. So in the end I can't bring myself to say that this album is any better than the first two, but it definitely is the more commercially viable release of the three. In a way, it also is the most cohesive of the three albums. All three albums reflect what life is about in UGK's world, but "Ridin' Dirty" has a stronger cohesiveness and concept to it. They cover a great array of topics, but one can take "Ridin' Dirty" as one night in one car, following UGK as they pay their respects, take care of some suckers, move some weight, get some groupies, and avoid the police all while the locked up homie keeps calling collect to maintain his sanity while in prison.

Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 10 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 10 of 10

Originally posted: January 15, 2008