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3 Ft. 

Where There's Smoke There's Fire (Wreckanize)

On 3 Ft.'s debut, there's more of the former than the latter. With the exception of one cut on this overlong 16-track disc, every song (including the skits) is about bangin.' It's cool to represent, but come on, even gangstas have fun every now and then. Even thugs occasionally crack smiles in addition to skulls.

But you'd never know it from this myopic, menacing album. The production is roughshod and sewer-rat grimy -- kind of what you'd expect from a raw underground release. Thankfully, though, it's not another example of a Cleveland crew trying to sound Southern. There's plenty of variety in the timing and tone of the beats, and for you riders, there's also a little somethin' somethin' in there to make those 10s and 15s jump. Indeed, the song "Hoe Type" is like Tae Bo for subwoofers. Lyrically, instrumentally, and conceptually, this is the most balanced of all the album's tracks. Ironically, it's also the only song on this solo record that is actually a solo joint.

On Smoke, 3 Ft. enlists the help of 12 MCs, and such an abundance of rhymers gives the record a disjointed feel. Granted, 3 Ft. and all his guests show strong mic presence, but their effectiveness is limited by the album's lack of variety.

All in all, there are enough C-Town shout-outs on Smoke to move a few copies in the 'hood, but unfortunately, there's not much more that'll take it beyond that or really endear it to the headz. It would be great to have the industry respect Cleveland as a serious source of lyrical venom. It would be great to see another hometown rapper go platinum. It would be great if it could be this one, but it probably won't be. After a couple of spins, we're all Smoke(d) out.

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