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The Notorious B.I.G.

Duets: The Final Chapter  Hear it Now

RS: 2of 5 Stars

2008

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Unlike the bottomless well of posthumous 2Pac vocals, there obviously wasn't much left in Biggie's vault when he died at age twenty-four in 1997. A dispiriting step down from 1999's already-a-little-ghoulish Born Again, the mistitled Duets (where's the Frank Sinatra joint?) relies on recasting verses from the albums released in B.I.G.'s lifetime onto new beats smothered with high-gloss guests. Hearing B.I.G. paired with Nelly on "Nasty Girl" or rhyming over one of Swizz Beatz's same old Ruff Ryders-sounding tracks just feels like seeing Humphrey Bogart reconstituted in that Diet Coke ad. Of course, you can't go wrong with Biggie and Jay-Z together on "Whatchu Want," and it's great to hear Scarface and Akon with B.I.G. on "Hustler's Story," in part because they make sense together. But when Duets goes from a Bob Marley song that doesn't quite jell to Korn's wack "Wake Up Now," the album's concept crumbles. On "It Has Been Said," a track where Biggie appears only to say "uh-huh," a certain Sean Combs spouts, "Critics lashed, said I made a fortune off of his passin'/All I did was build a dynasty off of his passion." Methinks the Diddy doth protest too much.

PETER RELIC

(Posted: Jan 12, 2006)

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