Pras Michel / Pras

Win Lose or Draw

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There's a fleeting moment during Win Lose or Draw when Pras exchanges overstatement for understatement: "I'm no Nas." No kidding. He's the Mickey Klutts to Nas' Mickey Mantle. The MC has never been the most lyrically deft, but he even fails at paraphrasing Scarface ("And you never seen a man die 'til you seen a man cry") and, though he does get Colin Farrell right ("When you conquer fear, you'll conquer death"), he fumbles facts, like when he reminds you that the Fugees "started in the 9-5" (their debut came out in the 9-4, and their breakout happened in the 9-6). This album was supposed to right the wrongs of Ghetto Supastar, Pras' rushed debut from 1998. He took the heat for its shortcomings and promised that the follow-up would be much better since he had a lot more time and was able process everything through some sense of quality control. While Win Lose or Draw certainly sounds less hurried and hastily glued together (no phone messages), it's no improvement. Beyond the lyrical snags, the production work is less than stimulating and the stabs at eclecticism are just that. It's not a good sign when the lead single is almost definitely picked for the fact that it's a cover -- in this case, U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," which was interpreted to better effect by Cher, even though it sounded more like Rod Stewart's "Forever Young" than the original. It's hard to see anything other than the flaws in Win Lose or Draw. That said, Pras deserves credit for a couple lines in "Party's Ova," a track that would otherwise be easy to dismiss as another case of an MC past his sell date taking aim at the ones on top. The lines in question: "You plow the land but the masters I own" (ow!); "There's a war going on, you cats don't even know" (too true).

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