Paid in Full, a double-disc Roc-a-Fella album (half old-school mixtape, half Roc sampler) released in conjunction with the film of the same name, could have been a remarkable release. Instead, it's a fumbled effort, one that's a major blemish on Roc-a-Fella's otherwise stellar resumé as of 2002. The first disc is an old-school mixtape with a great track listing: Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full," Slick Rick's "The Show," BDP's "The Bridge Is Over," Special Ed's "I Got It Made," and some pleasant surprises like Meli'sa Morgan's "Fool's Paradise," Maze's "Before I Let Go," Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," and Guy's "Goodbye Love." It's really hard to go wrong with songs like that, but this first disc ends up being downright unlistenable because of the "world famous" Brucie B, who, for one, can't mix worth a damn and, for two, never shuts up. He shouts out to seemingly half of New York over the course of the mix, and he interrupts -- mid-song, and mid-hook even -- to shout proclamations like "Everybody sing!" "Here we go!" and "If you in your house, if you in your car, wherever you are, tell me the name of this record!" Even worse, he actually sings along to the hook of "Before I Let Go" -- and not well! It's really remarkable that Roc-a-Fella head honcho Dame Dash actually deemed this worthy of release. What was he thinking? The second disc, which is a various-artists sample of the extended Roc family circa 2002, isn't too much better. Again, what could have been a fantastic listening experience ends up sounding questionable. The pool of talent here is unprecedented: rappers Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, M.O.P., Twista, and some lesser-knowns, as well as hot-shot producers Kayne West and Just Blaze. And there are some promising ideas here, chief among them a disc-opening interpolation of Queen's "Champions" and also a remake of Tru's "Bout It, Bout It" that features Master P. But little comes together like it should, and what could be a hit-filled sampler ends up being a jarring mishmash of off-putting vainglory. Granted, some of the beats are on point, especially those of "Champions" and "I'm Ready," but rarely can the MCs bring the necessary heat. In the end, Paid in Full is for Roc diehards only, and even they may want to pass on this one.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2