This album grabbed me from the beginning: I have an article in progress on soul music in which I refer to “the peerlessly composed intro to Al Green’s ‘Love And Happiness'”, and that intro is sampled for the first track.

It’s unusual to find a CD marked down as low as £3.99 (HMV sale) so soon after it appeared, so I wondered if it would be terrible. Quite the contrary: I think this is a tremendous album, taking influences from a number of places (Eminem/Dre still, Gang Starr, the Wu) and melding them into a mighty whole. He has a dark and strong delivery, and matches his introspective, bragging lyrics to it, and adds lots of strong beats, thanks to a bunch of producers (Premier is the only one I know anything about), with strings and backing vocals and samples working together to create a powerful mood. Gangsta, featuring Cutty Mack, is among the strongest and meanest and punchiest hip hop tracks I’ve heard in a while, and the final track finds a great riff from somewhere (anyone know the source, if it isn’t original?), making for the strongest ending I’ve heard in ages. I am mystified as to why this was presumably a flop, given the publicity his friendship and falling out with Eminem got him along with as potent an album as this. Perhaps having one of the genre’s most rubbish names didn’t help – I could see highlighting your height if it’s unusual/extreme, but that’s hardly the case here.

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