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Arcane / Ballhogz 

The Preview (Arcane Entertainment) /Hoggin the Game (Mactown Entertainment)

The three-man Arcane clique is as strong as its source material, and the source material is impeccable. On "Intermission -- Get Higher," Black Olympians saxophonist Romel joins the group for an original piece of quiet-storm jazz that proves the squad doesn't have its head just in hip-hop. When it's time to rhyme, the thoughtful three are still finding their way out from under their grimy New York influences. "Rollin' up the Block" finds them talking like the D.O.C. and biting G-Funk, but it's the rarest of hip-hop creations -- a skit with a point: Imitating an aging style won't get you much farther than the 330 area code. It's a lesson some of Arcane's local competition needs to learn.

Ballhogz have some good guidance, but they could use more. Cleveland notable Shoboat produced Hoggin the Game, and it looks like a No Limit disc bootlegged by someone with a low-resolution printer. Sounds like it, too. It's the kind of disc designed to make heads bounce, not think.

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