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Beanie Sigel 

The Solution (Roc-A-Fella/Island Def Jam)

Beanie Sigel's rough-and-ready new CD stands in direct contrast to his onetime mentor Jay-Z's latest. While Hov reminisces about his pre-posh days on American Gangster, Sigel is still living them on The Solution. Since his last album (2005's The B.Coming), Sigel was acquitted of attempted murder and spent some time in prison on a weapons charge. Little surprise he sounds so raw and inspired. The beats, largely provided by Dre & Vidal, are consistently strong and often great. But the real star is the rapper's gruff, angry flow, which bounces off his funny and cocky wordplay. "You can bury me face down with an open casket/This whole world can kiss mine/Tell me what this life got to offer?" he asks in "Dear Self." And in The Solution's best cut, "Rain (Bridge)," Sigel, Scarface, and Raheem DeVaughn rhyme over a heartfelt jazz-piano ballad. Don't laugh — like almost everything else here, it works.

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