Mack 10

The Recipe

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It became commonplace during the mid- to late '90s for rappers to litter their albums with a small nation's worth of guest stars, both for commercial purposes and for all-important sonic variety. At its worst, this tactic can lead to albums where the ostensible star ends up sounding like a guest at their own party. But at its best, the more-the-merrier formula can result in stellar albums like Mack 10's The Recipe, an unambitious but enormously satisfying slice of pop-savvy late-'90s gangsta rap that features a slew of the hottest names in hip-hop, from Eazy E to Master P to ODB and many, many more. Mack 10 got his big break from mentor/gangsta rap pioneer Ice Cube, who not surprisingly lends his gruff presence to two of the album's standout tracks: "Should I Stay or Should I Go," a borderline sacrilegious but effective reworking of the Clash classic, and "Ghetto Horror Show," a similarly cheesy but enjoyable slice of gangsta rap gothic featuring a scene-stealing turn by the underrated Jayo Felony. Snoop Dogg trades verses with the laconic but authoritative Mack 10 on another of the album's highlights, "LBC and the ING," driven by a familiar but undeniably infectious sample of "Heartbeat," one of the greatest and most-used loops in the history of hip-hop. "Money's Just a Touch Away," the album's Gerald Levert-assisted first single, is a too-slick attempt at radio-friendly crossover success, but Mack 10's sole solo showcase, "The Letter," is a surprisingly eloquent and well-reasoned defense of gangsta rap. The Recipe probably won't convert many non-believers, but for fans of straightforward, late-'90s gangsta rap, it's about as good as it gets.

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