With artwork straight out of David Fincher's seminal 1995 serial killer flick Seven, Ice-T's seventh album 7th Deadly Sin looks curiously out of place in 1999, and it has a sound to match. Ice-T doesn't really return to his classic sound of the late '80s/early '90s when he was a key player in the golden age of hip-hop, but he doesn't seem entirely concerned with staying current, either. The end result is a record that occasionally recalls OG or Iceberg while still having elements of everything from RZA's ominous, skeletal productions to the stripped-back Cali-rap of the late '90s. As a result, it straddles two extremes, which can actually be intriguing at times, especially since it is the sonic equivalent of Ice-T's place in hip-hop in 1999 -- a veteran that isn't washed up, but isn't quite in step with the times. Unfortunately, his lyrics don't really match the feel of the album, since he's decided to pretty much run through his traditional list of gangsta topics, even adding the now-cliched slow-jam tribute to Tupac and Biggie with "Valuable Game," a song based around En Vogue's "Don't Let Go" and easily the most embarrassing thing on the album. When he breaks from gangsta tradition or offers a twist on it, as he does on the title track or "Don't Hate the Playa," the songs have the opportunity to really take off, but they just highlight how most of the songs have lyrics that are simply too generic. But if 7th Deadly Sin is taken on a purely musical level, it can be intriguing. Not always successful, but it at least offers a welcome change-up after a couple of undistinguished releases.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: King Tee
feat: Marc Live