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JAY-Z, In My Lifetime... Vol. 1, Roc-A-Fella
It seems the death of collaborator and friend Notorious B.I.G. has shook Jay-Z as much as it did the rest of the hip-hop community. One of the MCs who -- after listening to Reasonable Doubt last year and declaring it a classic -- we feel is primed to fill the void left by Biggie, Jay offers a second disc that at times sounds like he's trying to be the next Puffy. They must have leaned on each other after B.I.G.'s passing, and the result is soft, pop fare like "I Know What Girls Like" featuring Lil' Kim and Puff, "Sunshine" featuring Foxy Brown and Babyface and "The City is Mine" featuring Blackstreet (although the video deserves props for its takeoff on "The Usual Supects.") There are tracks worthy of praise, most notably "Imaginary Player," "You Must Love Me," Where I'm From," and "Streets is Watching," but this album is nowhere near what it should be based on the promise of his debut. The sophomore slump is in full effect. Let's hope it's just a hiccup.
Click here to find out how to buy this album.

-- Mason Storm

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