Various Artists

XXL Raps, Vol. 1

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XXL, the magazine that's "Hip-Hop on a Higher Level," presents XXL Raps, Vol. 1, a mainstream compilation that's so of its time it really should have a "2005" on the cover. The wealth of tracks from 50 Cent's G-Unit crew and an even bigger selection of Southern street music represents the successful thug singles of the year, but the lone Common track suggests a broader scope, and if that's the case, why is Kanye West missing? He gets a shout out in the liner notes and maybe he'll be on "Vol. 2," which will hopefully give the producers some credit since volume one shamefully doesn't. Regardless, the collection is filled with big tunes and flows extremely well, making it a worthy overview of the high-profile and hardcore side of 2005.

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