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Westside Connection

Westside Connection -- the hefty rap trio of Ice Cube, Mack 10, and WC -- re-emerges with Terrorist Threats, arriving seven years after its bold and brutal debut, Bow Down. Shit done change since 1996, when Cube's West Coast gangsta paradise of swaying palm trees, fine-ass hos, and souped-up lowriders dominated rap music. Now, Detroit and Atlanta get more play on the radio, and ain't nobody yelling "Westside!" anymore.

So now the Connection has dropped this decidedly retro -- but still feisty and clever -- album, which will immediately remind rap fans why that Westside thing was such a big deal. Though Cube is lately more focused on his acting and directing careers than on hip-hop, he's still more adept with rhymes than films. As he puts it on "Call 911": "I'm straight off the slave ship/My style is ancient/I'm rich and I'm famous/I'm all that and I'm dangerous/I came with that language/It's mad, it's brainless/You studied at Cambridge/I'm fuckin' your main bitch." He no longer breathes fire as he once did on solo albums like The Predator and Death Certificate, but a little bit of Cube's cracker-police-state vibe infests "Potential Victims," where he warns the young black populace, "Look nigga, you fit the description/This is dedicated to potential victims/The Crucifixion ain't no fiction/Too much bitchin' get your ass beat into submission." Mack 10 and WC ably support Cube throughout Threats, but it's obvious that most of the themes are his.

As it should be on a West Coast rap record designed for cruising Crenshaw, the production here is slick without overshadowing the words, which are spit with just the right amount of attitude and venom to make the whole thing seem almost classic.


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