Love & Pain
On these songs, KeAnthony definitely displays a flare for the dramatic. Although on the songs he primarily covers love and romance - two topics that have been staples of R&B since it was invented - he adds a different perspective and new phraseology to the mix, making the old seem fresh again. For example, on "I Ain't Tryna," he sings about he needs the love of his life so that he doesn't end up lonely and alone: "I ain't try'na walk into an empty house and end up on the couch by myself, no," he sings. "And I ain't try'na be starin' at the TV feelin' hungry with no homecooked meal."
But despite the lush, romantic songs up front, the album's centerpiece is "Forever My Homie," a based-on-a-true story tale about two longtime friends who do some dirt, only two have one snitch on the other to save himself: "I never even saw it comin', now now I'm sittin' in this jail cell wonderin' why I'm the only one doin' time."
Tales of the 'Hood
On some songs, KeAnthony seemingly channels the spirits of late singers Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, such as the title track, which is reminiscent of '70s-era Soul, and "Everytime I'm High," which is about using marijuana to deal with the stress of everyday life.
A Hustlaz Story isn't perfect - some songs toward the end of the album seem like filler, plus on a few tracks the vocals aren't particularly strong. But despite its flaws, the album's definitely a compelling journey. it's obvious from the level of emotion on most songs that KeAnthony Dillard's first full album was a labor of love. And it's that love and that realness that lifts the album from what could have been mediocrity and propels it upward, making this of one of the better R&B debuts of 2007.