Mystikal needs to take his own advice. The New Orleans party-starter’s rambunctious rasp of a voice remains every bit the sonic treat it once was, and “Original,” his debut single for one-time rivals Cash Money Records, is mildly entertaining club fare, if a bit weighed down by label boss Birdman’s characteristically sleepy verse and Lil Wayne’s so-so rock’n’roll self-mythologizing. That track’s worst flaw as part of a pop narrative, though, is its clumsy failure either to rise above or come to terms with Mystikal’s six years behind bars for forcing his hairstylist to perform oral sex on him and two bodyguards. In the newly released “Original” video, the “Shake Ya Ass” hitmaker still shows no sign he’s, you know, watching himself.
Self-reflection isn’t necessarily what we want from a club-rap banger anyway, but instead Mystikal begins the song by joking that he felt like a “political refugee” — this even though, as the critic Frank Kogan points out, the No Limit alumnus has acknowledged that rappers “got to take responsibility for what we do, too, you know? We can’t be fools.” This clip shows Mystikal living it up in a chandelier-laden house packed with women wearing almost as much jewelry as clothing, as Birdman drowsily boasts and Lil Wayne shows off his skateboarding skills. Nothing you’d be surprised to see from a Cash Money video.
Again, it’s not as if anyone would want Mystikal to pretend he’s, like, Nelson Mandela here. But on the other hand, he almost does, following that initial “political refugee” comparison with frank talk about racism. That part is the the most interesting aspect of the track, but it jars poorly with the ugly reality of the crime Mystikal was convicted for committing (he also reportedly paid the stylist a six-figure civil settlement). The so-’90s Dirty South exuberance of other new Mystikal tracks, such as Mannie Fresh-produced “Move Something,” might be a more likable look for the resurgent rapper. Comparing himself to Tim McGraw? It just makes sense!