Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ol' Dirty Bastard

Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s first posthumous release isn’t funny, and that’s a problem, because the late Wu-Tang Clansman made his career as the court jester. The production on Osirus: The Official Mixtape is stale, and its cameos bear the mark of haste (the press release says the disc was ”coincidentally” completed one week before the rapper’s death in November). But its true failure is that cuts like ”Who Can Make It Happen Like Dirt?” offer the same off-color jokes that ODB was slinging at the start of his career. Not much of an epitaph, or even a record.

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In this iPod era of omnipotent personal playlists and fandriven MP3 blogs, shamelessly commercial hodge-podge soundtracks like this hip-hop potpourri seem utterly inessential. Accompanying the new Samuel L. Jackson ”tough coach” high school basketball flick, the Coach Carter disc boasts a few slam dunks, like ”Wouldn’t You Like to Ride” with Kanye West and Common. But mostly it proffers airballs like Twista and Faith Evans’cornball pep talk ”Hope.”

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Teddy Riley didn’t blow up by being subtle. So it’s no wonder that after a three-year hiatus, he and his group get right to the point: hot sex. Their fourth offering meshes soul, hip-hop, and indecent proposals – the same formula Riley employed for classics like ”No Diggity” and ”My Fantasy.” Unfortunately, it’s also what now fuels nearly every R&B act from 112 to R. Kelly. The result is a new jack swing that sounds a little humdrum.

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Richard Simmons must have gotten ahold of Fabolous’ second LP. The ideas are thin and the beats thinner – never have drums sounded so unpercussive as they do on ”Up on Things,” a duet with Snoop Dogg. Nor have backup singers ever sounded so pointless as on ”Call Me.” Fabolous himself comes off as being lighter than Jared from Subway – with all of Jay-Z’s arrogance, but none of his charisma.

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Redemption has everything you expect from a rap album: guns, girls, guests – and potshots at Eminem. ”Call My Name” is Benzino’s ode to his masculinity; so is ”Gangsta’s Touch,” though the headline-hunting rapper brandishes his harem as opposed to his arsenal. The cameo list runs from a slumming Jadakiss and Scarface to unknowns like Lisa Raye. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t pop Redemption into the CD changer. There’s also no reason why you should.

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