Various Artists

Loud Rocks

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Loud Rocks is a collection of songs by rap acts on the Loud label -- most prominently the Wu-Tang Clan, but also Tha Alkaholiks, Xzibit, Mobb Deep, Big Punisher, and Dead Prez -- who've been paired up with popular hard rock and heavy metal artists à la the Judgment Night soundtrack. Most of the latter group comes from the alternative-metal world (System of a Down, Incubus, and Sevendust, most notably), but there are a few acts already fusing rap with rock (Shootyz Groove, Everlast), some veterans (Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Sick of It All), and a poppier collaboration between Tha Alkaholiks and Sugar Ray. Like most projects of this nature, not everything hits the mark -- some pairings feel forced and a few lack that spark of collaborative interplay -- but the overall quality of the Loud roster ensures that most of what's here is at least listenable. And a lot of it is much better than that, some tracks offering new interpretations of old songs, others presenting a surprising range of distinctive approaches to the rap-rock form. It isn't without flaws, but overall, Loud Rocks is pretty successful.

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