Beanie Sigel's rough-and-ready new CD, The Solution, stands in contrast to the latest from his mentor, Jay-Z. American Gangster saw Jay reminiscing about the days before he settled into his plush corporate lifestyle, but Sigel is still living hard. Having been acquitted of attempted murder and done a prison stint on a weapons charge since his last album, The B. Coming, Sigel sounds raw and inspired. Released within a month of American Gangster and a slew of other big-name fourth-quarter releases, The Solution seems likely to get lost in the shuffle, just like Sigel's protégé Freeway's new one did. But that's a shame, because Sigel's aggressive manner is channeled perfectly here. The beats, largely provided by Dre & Vidal, are consistently serviceable and sometimes great. But the real star of the show is Sigel's gruff, angry flow and his wordplay, which mixes humor with street bravado. From "Dear Self": "You can bury me face down with an open casket/This whole world can kiss mine." The album's masterpiece, "Rain (Bridge)," is a heartfelt jazz piano-based ballad that features Scarface and Raheem DeVaughn. Sigel, vulnerable? Like almost everything else on this album, it works.
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