Ruff Ryders

Ryde or Die, Vol. 2

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AllMusic Review by

The far-ranging stable of rappers on the second Ryde or Die volume ensures a diversity album of rapping styles, while the patented Ruff Ryders style of production throughout makes it a surprisingly consistent listen. Once again, producer Swizz Beatz steals the spotlight with his garish synth-powered rhythms, while the other producers -- TJ Beatz, P. Killer Trackz, Teflon, and Mahogany -- second his signature style. There are moments when the music overshadows the rappers, reaffirming the reasons why Swizz Beatz became such a renowned producer ("Holiday" and "2 Tears in a Bucket" in particular come to mind), and there are moments when his fellow producers lay down equally stunning soundscapes, particularly "Weed, Hoes, Dough" and "Got It All" by Teflon and "Go Head" by TJ Beatz. Yet there are also moments when Beatz's music almost goes too far with its excessive synth use, like on "WW III" and "Friday Night." In addition to the noteworthy production on the album, there is also some stunning rapping by the album's superstars -- Method Man ("2 Years in a Bucket"), Snoop Dogg ("WW III"), and Busta Rhymes ("Friday Night") -- along with some impressive performances by up-and-coming rappers in the Ruff Ryders stable: Drag-On's "Weed, Hoes, Dough" and Jadakiss' "My Name Is Kiss." There are a few disappointing moments such as DMX's mediocre "The Great," the awkward chorus in "Friday Night," and the questionable synth gaudiness, but these moments are seldom.

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