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“Slim Thug will never make another album like Already Platinum.”
In the second part of his Hogg Life documentary, Slim Thug sits in front of a desk, his well-manicured backyard in the background. He’s lamenting in the latter half of the 38-minute clip that he should have released Boss of All Bosses, his second album, in 2005 as opposed to Already Platinum in the interest of staying true to the Houston sound that was atomic in 2005. To this day, Slim Thug’s retail albums haven’t touched the same wave that his Swishahouse-era and Boss Hogg Outlawz tapes have. But none of them held the world’s collective attention as Already Platinum did in July 2005.
Houston artists, thanks to the local mixtape economy, rarely needed to take risks. If you listened to any other Houston rap tape from 2005, all of them save for one stuck to the laid-back, chunky flip of drum patterns and grooving bass lines. Already Platinum was the outlier, one that Slim Thug a near decade later is proud of. “Already Platinum is either my first or second favorite album,” Slim says in the documentary.
Music labels often cash in on a trend by gobbling up all of the talent condensed inside its parameters as if they were a pair of retro Jordans released on any given Saturday. When “Still Tippin” exploded in 2004 (the final version with Paul Wall, Slim, and Mike Jones), Houston artists were getting deals as if they had a direct line to an A&R and a label. What separated Jones and Paul Wall from Slim were their voices. Slim, always able to command a crowd, has a guttural, tumescent rap drawl that sounded like it was meant to hand down Supreme Court decisions, much less raps about being obscenely rich and oblivious to haters and scandalous women alike. The marriage between Slim Thug and the Neptunes lasted for one album, and like a marriage, it was beautiful at times and uneven at others. The trick was trying to match Slim’s voice and Texas background with the shimmer and pop gloss of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams’ beats.
“The formula at Interscope is, put the new artist with the hot producer,” Slim says of his Interscope deal, ironically detailing how almost every Interscope album since has followed the same path.
The beauty of the Slim/Neptunes pairing was the marching band and tuba-obsessive “Like a Boss” and the constantly shifting “I Ain’t Heard of That,” the original version featuring not Bun B, but rather Jay Z in one of his first “retirement” verses. What space Slim usually occupied whenever he rapped on cooked-up, chopped beats handed to him by Michael Watts was confined when asked to deal with Pharrell and Chad’s percussion. It’s a rare occurrence to hear Slim now rap with the same rumble and speed of “I’m a young Texas A-Rod/KG in the game/LeBron James/You boys must not know my name/I’m Slim Thugga, motherfucker, the Big Boss of the Nawf….”
What Already Platinum challenged Slim to do was match the Neptunes’ pop sound by taking risks, and in turn, it asked the Neptunes to escpae their own idea of space and settle inside of Houston’s smoggy, drum-heavy, slab-riding, and slow-contorting musical gumbo. To effectively do it, they had to call on Houston hitter Mr. Lee who locked the first quarter of Already Platinum in that realm. “3 Kings” was a posse cut that on the bootleg sounded beautiful with T.I. going last and Bun B trying to kick a hole in your throat before saying “Free Pimp C.” Jazze Pha clicked in with the cruising updated funk of The Mack with “Everybody Loves a Pimp” and “Incredible Feeling.” The result was an album that was beloved by critics, viewed indifferently from select fans, and somehow rests in Houston rap history as one of the more memorable pieces of music from the era.
What Already Platinum challenged Slim to do was match the Neptunes’ pop sound by taking risks, and in turn, it asked the Neptunes to escape their own idea of space and settle inside of Houston’s smoggy, drum-heavy, slab-riding, and slow-contorting musical gumbo.
Most Slim Thug fans will openly tell him that they loved the heavily bootlegged version of Already Platinum as opposed to the retail version. On it, Pharrell attempted his best to be a Texas rap producer and succeeded in some spaces. That’s the version noted culture critic Chris Ryan remarked in his 2005 SPIN review as the album that brought “the beast” out of Pharrell. Whatever edge Williams served up with the monolithic kick drums of “Already Platinum” and “Click Clack,” he used them as a precursor for Clipse’s 2006 classic, Hell Hath No Fury.
When Williams first met Slim, he remarked that he was already a millionaire before a major rap deal. He was right. Slim may never have to record another album in his life, but he’ll forever have his outlier, the album that launched him into Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani collaborations and trips overseas to see Nigo stunt with a platinum Rolls Royce. He loves Already Platinum. For a decade now, Texas has too.
Brandon Caldwell is a writer living in Houston. Follow him @_brandoc.