Jean-Claude Annoux

Black and White

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Black and White makes a good argument for rap music's ability to maintain the thread of a film's themes and play less the role of an MC-studded ticket-pusher. That's not to say the big guns featured on the album, like Raekwon, Prodigy, the late Big Pun, and Xzibit, don't command your attention. The record cleverly opens with the hum of a movie projector followed by the deadpan delivery of the line "Black and White? So, we movie-settin'?," which sets the pace for a fangs-bared montage of politically charged manifestoes aimed at jersey-wearing wannabes.

It's the player-haters and fakers that get the brunt of this 13-track beating. Queen Pen's "You'll Never Be Better Than Me" combines fierce rock-tinged guitar riffs with harsh words for those who'd try to accessorize the toughest elements of African-American culture, while the American Cream Team gives the "Middle Finger Attitude," recalling a confrontation in the movie between Italian mobsters moving in on the nightclub turf of rap gangsters. Prodigy of Mobb Deep keeps the peace with the laid-back tempo and swooping violins of "Don't Be a Follower," along with other more temperate tracks, such as the sampled harpsichord and sweet beats of Black and White co-star Raekwon's "Wake Up" and Big Pun's "Dramacide" with Kool G Rap and turntablists the X-ecutioners.

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