So So Def boss Jermaine Dupri rounds up a number of playful pop-rap songs for the Like Mike soundtrack, unsurprisingly including a number of Lil' Bow Wow performances. The 15-year-old rapper stars in the film so it's expected that his contributions will be significant, and indeed they are, beginning with "Basketball," the album's opening song. Here Bow Wow, Fabolous, and Dupri drop a verse each about their passion for the game, while Fundisha sings the hook. A little bit later in the album come the two standout Bow Wow songs, though: the Neptunes-produced "Take Ya Home" and Just Blaze-produced "Playin' the Game." Both songs feature top-notch production and incredibly catchy hooks, so much so that the former became one of Bow Wow's biggest hits yet. Elsewhere on Like Mike, Dupri includes so-so songs by TQ, Mario, and Solange, three artists likely to appeal to the same listeners who like Bow Wow. But the real surprise comes late in the album with Nas' "Rule" and TCP's "Hoop It Up," both much more adult than the preceding songs. The previously released Nas song, which interpolates Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," falls a bit short of being another "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)" for the New York rapper, but it's still quite moving. And the TCP song is a fast-paced bass song that concludes the soundtrack perfectly, embodying the heart-racing nature of basketball.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier