J-Zone's first full-length album, Pimps Don't Pay Taxes, is credited to his crew, the Old Maid Billionaires, which is just an excuse to include his boys Al-Shid and Huggy Bear on a few tracks. Look past the blatant misdirection and what you have is a J-Zone solo effort, albeit one that is only a few degrees removed from his last project, the A Bottle Of Whup Ass EP.
Zone's fledgling hip hop producer career was in full swing by the time Pimps Don't Pay Taxes rolled around: the man had already gained a cult following who ate up every single song he touched with his quirky, Prince Paul-on-laced-crack demented beats. His Old Maid vanity label was even able to swing a distribution deal with Fat Beats Records, meaning that, unlike his previous two EPs, you would actually be able to purchase a copy of Pimps Don't Pay Taxes in fucking stores.
Alongside cohorts Al-Shid and Huggy Bear, who also appeared on the other two EPs, J-Zone expanded upon the sound of A Bottle Of Whup Ass and folded it into a fantasy world which featured the three as successful rappers with cash to spare. In reality, listeners are just getting more of the same rants, raves, and self-assured goofiness that we've grown accustomed to receiving from J-Zone.
But that isn't a bad thing.
1. MODEL CITIZENS
A pretty interesting way to introduce the main players of Pimps Don't Pay Taxes.
A pretty goofy song that manages to introduce J-Zone to a wider audience, while dropping enough references to his previous two EPs to satisfy his fans. Not quite as good a first song as “The Zone Mission Part VIII” was, but enjoyable nonetheless.
3. LIVE FROM PIMP PALACE EAST (FEAT AL-SHID & HUGGY BEAR)
The first posse cut from the Old Maid Billionaires for this project is dominated by Huggy Bear's lead-off verse, which is just awesome. (Dude even manages to reference Kilroy, which is both bizarre and impressive.) Al-Shid and Zone himself also do commendable work, but this is the H.U.G. show all the way.
4. STROKE HAPPY
A short, strange interlude. I found it hilarious, but you'll still only need to hear it the once.
5. THE TROJAN WAR (FEAT THUG PENIS)
Look past the fact that Huggy Bear is playing the part of J-Zone's dick, and you'll find an enjoyable (and funny) track that doubles as a public service announcement promoting safe sex and the regular use of condoms. No, seriously, the song is still funny! Come back!
6. THE BUM-BITCH BALLAD
The beat is unusually boring, and the subject matter is so trite that women are bound to be offended, even though Zone sticks with his argument that “if you're not a bitch, then I'm not taking about you”, which is a defense that has never really worked. Although he is quick to stress that not all bitches are women, you will have already moved on.
7. 190 (FEAT AL-SHID)
The Al-Shid drinking/flashback/piecing together last night song (a la The Hangover) from A Bottle Of Whup Ass reappears on Pimps Don't Pay Taxes. It still sounds pretty good, even within the context of an entirely different album.
8. YOU BLOCK, YOU BLEED
This skit basically tells the exact same story as what plays out on the next song.
9. BLOCK ITCH
This diatribe against cockblockers at his shows who get in the way when Zone is just trying to get his fuck on is actually kind of boring, although a few of his couplets are relatively funny. Maybe this would have worked better if the previous skit were deleted.
10. NO CONSEQUENCES (FEAT HUGGY BEAR)
Taken from A Bottle Of Whup Ass. Oddly, this awesome song also sounds right at home on Pimps Don't Pay Taxes. I suppose that statement is just a testament to the track's overall brilliance.
11. A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR
12. ZONE FOR PRESIDENT
J-Zone's mission statement would have made for a much better introductory song than “Q&A” (especially since he refers to this song as “Zone Mission Pt. V” at one point). This shit sounds really fucking good; it's most definitely on the same level as A Bottle Of Whup Ass, the man's finest hour. To be fair, though, Zone has already made a song about him being president ("Inauguration Day", from Music For Tu Madre).
13. I'M FUCKING UP THE MONEY (FEAT HUGGY BEAR)
Huggy Bear rips shit up on this solo outing, over some majestic J-Zone production work. This just fucking rocks. And Hug's theory that reading books only teaches you how to study, not anything else, is kind of humorous.
14. OLD MAID LEGAL AID
A skit that leads right into...
15. JAILBAIT JENNIFER (FEAT AL-SHID)
When Zone says that his erect penis is harder than trying to find his first album, the song is funny as shit. When Zone starts talking about the possibility of going to jail for his indiscretions with an underage girl, you start feeling all sorts of dirty, and you feel guilty for laughing at the above joke. Same with Al-Shid's verse. Not bad, but you'll only be able to listen to this one once.
16. S.H.I.D. CHAPTER 5
Al-Shid's solo offering is decent, but not very memorable, thanks to an ineffective choice of instrumental.
17. MS. PLATONIC PART 2
J-Zone gets his revenge on the chick from "The Smurf Syndrome" (although this song takes its title from the skit that preceded it on A Bottle Of Whup Ass), the friend who invited him over just to try to get a free beat from him under the pretense that she was going to give it up. (At least, that's how it went in his mind.) His scheme is all sorts of fucked up, but at least he manages to finally get some. Not that I'm condoning the man's actions, of course.
18. THE J-ZONE FAN CLUB
This skit is just funny.
19. INVISIBLE INK (FEAT HUGGY BEAR)
A lyrical clinic for Huggy Bear. Much more serious than most of Pimps Don't Pay Taxes, but enjoyable nonetheless.
20. METROCARD MILLIONAIRES (FEAT AL-SHID & HUGGY BEAR)
The final posse cut on Pimps Don't Pay Taxes (nay, the final actual song on the album) takes off immediately on the strength of Zone's harried beat, and all three rappers step their game up considerably. Nice!
21. BILLIONAIRE THEME
A brief, mostly instrumental outro.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Pimps Don't Pay Taxes plays out exactly as you would expect an extended version of A Bottle Of Whup Ass would. J-Zone's beats are still (mostly) catchy and creative as ever, and his boys Al-Shid and Huggy Bear are monsters on the mic. A heavy reliance on boring skits hurts the project more than it helps, but Pimps Don't Pay Taxes is still fairly original and consistently enjoyable. The two readers who actually sought out his first two EPs after reading my original write-ups will definitely not be disappointed.
BUY OR BURN? This purchase should be a no-brainer, whether you enjoyed the first two EPs or if you just appreciate demented cartoonish instrumentals accompanied by actual mic skills.
BEST TRACKS: “No Consequences”; “I'm Fucking Up The Money”; “Metrocard Millionaires”; “Live From Pimp Palace East”; “The Trojan War”; “Invisible Ink”; “Zone For President”; “Ms. Platonic Part 2”
The other J-Zone albums are being discussed here. Be sure to check it out.