Ms. Toi

Ms. Toi

That Girl


This very long debut album by the L.A.-based Ms. Toi (you’ve heard her rap and sing with Ice Cube and Mack 10) features 16 tracks, none of which sound very awful or very great. She’s not the worst at what she does, but she’s certainly not the best. But this isn’t a promising but flawed first album — it’s pretty much just a failure all the way around.

Why am I so down on Ms. Toi? Well, it’s not her rhyme skills, which aren’t all that bad, and it’s not her flow, which is pretty much on the L.A. tip but with a club vibe. No, the reason this disc fails is that we get to the end of the 72 minutes of That Girl knowing virtually nothing about Ms. Toi herself. Why? Let’s break it down: there are nine different producers, there are five different guest appearances (E-40, Nelly and two of his St. Lunatics, The Transitions, Poppa LQ, and MC Ren), and there are exactly no moments here that make you say, “Hey, I never heard this before.”

Notwithstanding, there are a couple of moments here that aren’t so bad. E-40 makes the most of his cameo on “Work A Twist,” in a style that can only be called Eminem and Big Boi get stuck in the same transporter device; Ren doesn’t sound so awfully old-school on “Bangin’,” either. I don’t mind the (rather obvious) Rufus sample on “Can’t None Y’All,” because it’s oh so very 1993, and therefore cool, and Doug Rasheed’s Funkadelified production on “Wonder Why” is so obnoxious that I’ll put it on a couple mix tapes this year.

But this just means the disc isn’t a disaster. It’s not. But it is a pretty sad way to introduce — and doom — a woman who could have done okay for herself. It’s a sad hip-hop epitaph: “She was afraid to fail, so she used nine different producers.”

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