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Mike West

It has all the right ingredients for prize-winning radio hip-hop: reedy, snake-charming synths; a raggamuffin dancehall hype man; a smooth-crooning homeboy chorus. So why is Lauderdale MC Mike West's single "Don't Know Me" so damn sterile? West suffers from the same problem that much of Southern hip-hop falls prey to -- talking about how much he's gonna talk about, and not saying much of anything.

Peppering each line with a few niggas and mothafuckas doesn't make a rapper street. With a flow that's as rigid and militant as his content, West has the potential for spitting hard tales of suburban strife, but they don't come out here. Producers TrackJunkiez provide a skiffling, overlong intro, and their wheedly, Nokia-approved beats never kick up the power they could. And, dude, it's the first single off your new album -- of course I don't know you. This is your chance to tell me something. After absorbing five minutes of Mike West, I don't know the man behind the hype. Let's hope the full LP offers something more.

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Jonathan Zwickel

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