Mr. Cheeks

Back Again!

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Mr. Cheeks hyped this album long and hard in the press during 2002, proclaiming to whomever was in earshot that he was making "the best damn rap album period," an obvious play on the successful sports talk show. While show hosts Tom Arnold and John Salley are nowhere within earshot of this record, Mr. Cheeks comes forward with easily his most accomplished record since his days in the Lost Boyz. Thematically, Cheeks uses Back Again! as therapy; it features raw and unapologetic confessionals about life, covering the usual base of topics you'd expect to hear. The production is clean and tight throughout, with "Crush on You," a duet with Mario Winans, being the album's masterpiece. The cast of guest artists (Pete Rock, C.L. Smooth, Floetry, etc.) is top-notch and highlights Cheeks' versatility in rapping over harder-edged street beats as well as the smoother R&B tunes. Thankfully absent of self-indulgent skits, obligatory shout-out intros, and other filler common in hip-hop records, there's nothing particularly innovative about Back Again!, but it's a solid party album worth your hard-earned dough.

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