Fruit From The Pimp Tree

13-year-old Too $hort protégé keeps it clean but doesn't stray far from his teacher.

The past two years may have been a fine time for teen pop acts, but the

same cannot be said for teen rap acts. No Limit's Lil' Soldiers, Biv 10

Pee Wee All-Stars and A+ all failed to capture the attention of a public

that had begrudgingly allowed at least one hit to pubescent playas

like Kris Kross, Skee-Lo and Special Ed.

Up next on the chopping block is Baby DC, a 13-year-old protégé

of infamous pimp rapper Too $hort. This youngster raps about roller skating

in lieu of rollin', fighting in video games instead of fighting in the

streets and schoolboy crushes rather than streetcorner braggadocio. And

that's not even mentioning the lyrics in "Stayin on Top," which tell of

sneaking girls into his house ... to see his home studio.

Baby DC breaks away from the shadow of his teacher in his lyrics. Too

$hort swears so much he even had to invent the now-ubiquitous "biiiootch"

to keep himself ahead of the game. Baby DC, on the other hand, never gets

more risqué than inviting a whole cheerleading squad to Six Flags

on "Candy Girl." Baby DC also is a quicker rapper than Too $hort could

ever hope to be, as he amply demonstrates on "Candy Girl" and "Give Me

Mine," which features an all-too-brief guest appearance by "Yay Area"

motormouth E-40.

Musically, however, School Daze doesn't fall too far from the Too

$hort tree. Its best songs — "Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll" (RealAudio

excerpt), "Candy Girl," "That Ain't Much (It's a School Boy Crush)" (RealAudio

excerpt) and "Get Your Hustle On" — feature Baby DC rapping

slow-drawl style over familiar funk loops — a rap blueprint first

perfected by Too $hort. Driving this point home is "That Ain't Much (It's

a School Boy Crush)," which uses the same beat and guitar loop as Too

$hort's "Life Is ..."

There are excursions into other rap subgenres, some of which work, as on

the mournful Master P-esqe "Papa Was a Soldier (R.I.P.)," some of which

don't (the rah-rah Southern Bounce of "Say Uhh Ohh," the Mase-like "I'm

Feelin' You"). On the whole, though, Baby DC plays it close to the thick,

rolling bass sound closely identified with his Oakland, Calif., hometown.

He has some rap chops — good timing, funny punchlines — but

there isn't much here that makes the listener think Baby DC is a Bold

New Talent.

Not all teen rappers end up in the cut-out bin. LL Cool J was all of 16

when he first hit the scene, for example. But LL knocked the ball out of

the park with "Radio" and never stopped running the bases. Baby DC, however,

is just playing pick-up games, driving solid shots up the middle but never

earning more than a double. With some hard training in the off-season,

he might morph into a better player, but for now, he's just average.