Life Story

There's no Plan B if this fails...

There's no Plan B if this fails. As sleek rap product, this debut by Puff Daddy's new lackey Black Rob has all the right moves. Take 'Spanish Fly' - it features Jennifer Lopez singing a chorus based on Madonna's 'La Isla Bonita'. It must've been quite a session chez Combs that gave birth to that revolutionary idea.

It's hard not to feel desperately cynical about a project that's been doused in so many dollars, that's associated with hip-hop's own Malcolm McLaren, that contains guest spots by so many of rap's chancers (Puffy, Mase, Lopez, Lil' Kim). It can deafen you to the fact that some of this 72-minute slog of an album is actually pretty riveting. 'BR' is Wu-lite, but it rocks a sinister string quartet vibe and sparse beats, and ends up exuding a certain low-key grace. 'Rise Up' and 'Whoa!', meanwhile, are typical in their Bad Boy design, all petulant drum loops and off-balance hooks shackled to woozy, baroque samples.

But such tracks only stand out because the rest of the album is a tedious trawl through lazy breaks and hoary rhymes. As a hip-hop life story, it's hardly the most outrageous personal testament we've ever heard. But then, Black Rob is out to sell, not surprise, and with Puffy loitering in the background you just know that units shifted is going to be more important than feet moved. Black Rob, then: he's doing very well in the US, you know.
5 / 10

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