Album Review: Young Money's Empire strikes back

By Gerrad O'Brien, Contributing Writer Returning to the Hip-Hop scene after a very disappointing Rich Gang collaboration, the Young Money goons are back at it with the album "Rise of an Empire."

It's been a very quiet period for Young Money, even with the new talent added to the label. However, the album is a step up from their previous group releases. The production is clean and the sound is pleasing to the listener. It feels like they took their time in crafting and mixing the album.

New signee Euro is showcased frequently throughout the album and shines in every feature. His solo performance in the track "Induction Speech," is a declaration of his presence in the rap game after being brought in by Lil Wayne.

Lyrically, Hip-Hop heads might pan the album's filler tracks provided by the non-flagship artists, but will listen along with fans to the improvement shown by many of the artists on the roster.

Lil Twist has been speaking of his solo debut for Young Money for years now and it seems to have been put on hold for the time being, but with this album the young rapper assures fans and the Hip-Hop audience he's still relevant and can still put out bars with substance.

Other artists including Jae Millz, Mack Maine, Flow and Gudda Gudda make a few cameos, and probably due to how poorly "Rich Gang" did, they took notes and knew what the people wanted, and what they didn't.

Two other new signees, Christina Millian and Maroon 5's PJ Morton make their Young Money debuts on the album in the two strong tracks "You Already Know" and "Video Model."

It's notable how there isn't a single appearance from label mates Austin Mahone and Paris Hilton, and for good reason. With Paris Hilton's Lil Wayne-assisted single doing poorly and Austin Mahone's boyish charm and Disney image, it would have been more than catastrophic and hurt the album's delivery.

To no surprise, the weakest parts of the album come from Birdman's subpar rapping features,YG's predictable verse during his own appearance in the album and the six and a half minute-long filler track "Fresher Than Ever."

By far the strongest features and songs from the album come from newcomer Euro and Young Money's Big Four, Tyga, Nicki Minaj, Drake and the man behind the machine, Mr. Dwayne Carter.Stellar verses from the veteran are refreshing to hear and although Drake only makes one appearance on the album, he shows that's all he needs to still make an impact.

Nicki shines in the single "Lookin A**" with an intense flow and strong delivery. She attacks the bass-thumping production done by Young Money producer Detail, who also produced Lil Wayne's hit single, "No Worries." The track features powerful punch lines and magnificent metaphors. This song shows shades of her hit mixtape, "Beam Me Up Scotty", which sold one million copies.

The strongest track on the album is "Senile." Tyga sets up a haunting, creepy beat with low toned clever verse, followed by Nicki who comes along and dominates the beat with a very strong verse. Wayne is the final verse and makes it complete with metaphors and witty puns.

All and all, this release should prove that Young Money is no longer the brunt of jokes. As this album demonstrates, they can handle themselves well enough against the competition coming from new Hip-Hop.