Ice City

Welcome to the Hood

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Seems a little early in his career to be forming a crew, but rapper Freeway has found three adept rappers and Ice City is the result. Face Money, Bars, and Hydro mix well with Freeway on Welcome to the Hood, offering a more straight-ahead style to Freeway's gruff and raspy delivery. The hooks are killer, the production -- by a revolving door of B-list players -- is all the way live, and there's not a lame interlude to be found. "Welcome to the Hood" gives up the glitter and "Ride Up" features Joe Budden and a tension-building chorus, while "Want You Back" puts a slow, relaxed bump in your shoulders. There's not much filler but there's not much point to it all, either. Unnamed sucker MCs get their due, ladies get their come-ons, and the hood is a whole different world, but there's not enough insight to these tired topics to make this a meaty classic. Thugs have sunny, lazy days too, and Welcome to the Hood is the proof.

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