Prime Suspects

Guilty Til Proven Innocent

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Master P stocked his No Limit Records with a stable of artists who, collectively, read like rap's answer to Stan Lee's superheroes. You've got the gangsta, the gun moll, the playboy, the tight-knit group of homies, and various permutations of those stereotypes (e.g., the tight-knit group of playboys). If it all seems contrived to move product, it also all comes down to the quality of the product, which is diamond-solid on Guilty Til Proven Innocent. Twenty tracks total, this is really two Prime Suspects albums for the price of one: an all-star set of ten songs showcasing their No Limit labelmates (Snoop Dogg, Mystikal, Silkk the Shocker, etc.) and ten songs on their own. With so many guest rappers dropping by, and five different producers for the sessions (Master P is credited as executive producer), Guilty Til Proven Innocent is a wild and varied ride. Although it wouldn't be fair to call any one song a highlight (the disc is too high too often), standout moments include Silkk the Shocker spitting bullets on "Money Makes…," Fiend and Snoop Dogg pushing the voodoo vibe of "My Old Lady" into ecstasy, Prime Suspect's own superhero theme song on "Ride Wit My Heat" and the horroshow setting of "Last Days." In between are rhymes that pay off in stuttered rhythms like the soundtrack to a bad dream, grooves that go down as smooth as kahlua & creme (especially those from D.J. KLC), and some poignant moments that resonate with hard-earned life experience ("Of All Da Hustlers"). And yet, in such auspicious company, Prime Suspects fail to carve out the unique vocal niche that make a Snoop Dogg or Mystikal special. The trio of E, Skinew and Gangsta T stand tall when their turn comes to deliver good rhymes, but only by standing on the shoulders of the No Limit label do they deliver gangsta rap this righteous.

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