Label: Island Black Music
Killer Cuts: "Why U Bullshittin'?," "If U Stay Ready," "Dip Da"
See Also: 2nd II None Classic 220

Suga Free is one of hip-hop's most original, most distinctive stylists. He's also a rapper who embodies contradictions, which makes him quintessentially hip-hop. He's a technically-dexterous rapper, with well-written lines precisely delivered. At the same time, he makes big, personality-filled gestures, a true character with a unique, exaggerated persona. He wasn't a pimp-rapper, he played a pimp, and did so with humor, insight and talent.

And as ever with hip-hop, the question of glorification vs. "portraying reality" is a major question. Again, Suga Free manages to have his cake and eat it too, at least for those willing to engage with his work in the first place. As much as pimp rap can glorify or trivialize some very real societal problems, Suga Free, particularly on his debut, manages to humanize the characters in his stories, even if those characters are only intermittently women. This is never more true than on the emotional tour de fore of "Dip Da" that closes the album, a story about abuse and family that strikes directly at the heart without sounding like a mea culpa.