As his first solo release since Westside Connection's hit effort, The Shadiest One was positioned as WC's breakthrough to the major league of rap superstars. The hardcore edge that dominated his earlier releases with the Maad Circle has been tamed somewhat, so he can reach a wider audience. Of course, he still retains his gangsta image, relying on familiar lyrical and musical trappings, but everything's a bit more subdued than before, with mixed results. In the case of "Keep Hustlin'," the slight pop makeover works well, but other times it falls flat. And, like any of WC's albums, The Shadiest One runs too long. On several songs, the music simply meanders without any hooks to bring it back into focus. But that isn't a fatal flaw, especially since it's a familiar one, and the best moments on the record are as good as anything he's ever recorded, making The Shadiest One another solid entry in his catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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