Beatclub/Interscope - 2003 - 72 minutes

Dr Dre ushered in a new era when he enlisted a protégé with an eye to turning white fascination with rap music into megabucks. Eminem's success sent shockwaves through the industry and other super-producers were taking notes.

Before he launched Justin Timberlake in the pop stratosphere Tim 'Timbaland' Moseley made what seemed a quixotic choice. A rural counterpoint to Eminem's urban delinquent, Bubba Sparxxx was a self-confessed redneck with a fixation on his Southern roots.

His debut album spawned a manic hit in 'Ugly', a jungled-up twisted sequel to Missy Elliott's 'Get Ur Freak On' that popped on mash-up mixes and bootlegs everywhere. It was huge, as huge as the massive MC himself, who chimed in with a self-deprecating rap that really played second fiddle to the incredible beats.

This time around, Bubba's got himself a unique style, with Timbaland welding his future funk to samples of bluegrass and country. The results are as bizarre as you might imagine, with tracks like 'Coming Round' and 'She Tried' carving a route between Missy and 'O Brother Where Art Thou?' Initially perplexing, ultimately compelling and fresh.

This hick-hop style is not the only aspect to 'Deliverance'. 'Nowhere' is another sequel in the style of 'Ugly', this time to Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River' (another Timbaland production). That slowly pounding riff and dramatic arrangement all recall last year's best pop song, even if Bubba's rap is no match for Timberlake's expressive vocals. 'Organized Noise' take the sound southwards with hyperactive Outkast-style beats on 'Like It Or Not'. If 'Deliverance' has a weak spot, it's Bubba's voice. Neither distinctive or powerful, Sparxxx's vocals are a definite disappointment.

Hip-hop's not exactly crowded with imaginative innovators these days. 'Deliverance' appeals equally to hillbillies and homeboys and there's not many records you can say that about.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Intro (Bubba Sparxxx/ Deliverance) - Jimmy Mathis - Comin' Round - She Tried - Nowhere - Overcome - Warrant Interlude - Warrant - New South - Deliverance - Hootnanny - Take A Load Off - Like It Or Not - My Tone - Back In The Mud - Disappear (Bonus Track) - Ugly (Bonus Track)