Posthumous albums are a touchy subject. At times they can be classic, while at other times they’re destined to fail and are nothing more than cheap ploys for money. Although he released Sweet James Jones Stories in 2005 and Pimpilation in 2006, The Naked Soul Of Sweet Jones was set to be Pimp C’s first official solo release. This is because the 2005 release was hardly more than a compilation of mixtape freestyles, while the latter was partly compiled of tracks put together while the Houston legend was imprisoned. Pimp C began recording The Naked Soul shortly before his unfortunate sizzurp-induced death in 2007. While a handful of songs were completed in the manner Pimp intended, others underwent similar treatment to his previous releases and were sprinkled with guest appearances, some of which work well, while others appear inauthentic.
To UGK loyalists, it will appear obvious that songs such as “What Up” and “Dickies” were completed post-2007 because of their contrived nature as well as references to Pimp’s passing. Oddly enough, “What Up” featuring Drake and Bun B is one of the album’s best cuts despite the unlikelihood of Drake and Boi-1da actually being part of a studio session with Chad Butler. Jazze Pha’s production and assistance on the extremely catchy hook of “Fly Lady” is another commendable effort from The Naked Soul. The track features UGK’s trademark echo adlibs which makes each verse a head-nodder. “Since The ’90s” is a posse cut that benefits from its guest appearances. The playing field seems leveled for The Gator Mane and E-40 as they mash out over an instrumental that’s typical for a Rap-A-Lot release.
However, once the listener gets five songs into The Naked Soul, the production becomes monotonous. It’s worth noting that the album’s opener, “Down 4 Mine” features the grandest production on The Naked Soul. Running just over five minutes, the opening track features no rapping from Pimp, but is complete with a brilliant hook and verses featuring high-pitch singing about pimping and sipping lean. The production features a beautiful female vocal sample and excellently executed jazz guitar sample, which makes you wonder why Cory Mo couldn’t have produced more than two songs on The Naked Soul. David Banner’s effort behind the boards on “Midnight” is worthy of national radio play and it sets itself apart from many of the other cuts on The Naked Soul. Likewise, “Hit The Parking Lot” featuring Webbie and Lil Boosie is another candidate for a radio single.
One aspect of The Naked Soul Of Sweet Jones that hampers its distinction from the rest of Pimp C’s catalogue is the abundance of guest appearances that overshadow Pimp on his own record. From three notable Bun B cameos to Chamillionaire shooting an array of wordplay on “Love 2 Ball,” the album’s closer, “Massacre,” serves as one of the only memorable Pimp C performances on The Naked Soul Of Sweet Jones. This wouldn’t be such the quandary if Pimp C were alive to complete the album because his arrangement would suffice as proving his ability to construct a high-quality album. Instead, we are left with certain instances that appear to downsize Pimp C’s importance to the project as both a rapper and songwriter.
By and large, The Naked Soul Of Sweet Jones is a solid album. There’s a good possibility that if Pimp C oversaw the completion of the album, it would turn out this way. However there’s also a distinct possibility of the album being even better, especially considering how Pimpilation topples The Naked Soul in many aspects, such as production. Overall, The Naked Soul will certainly not tarnish Pimp C’s irrefutable legacy, as it’s an extremely pleasurable listen; but most likely fans won’t remember this as his greatest work to date.