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Jay-Kool 

Drunk High & Sober (Nina Raw/Scratchpaper)

A Cleveland hip-hop long-timer (his group Catch 22 -- not to be confused with the New Jersey ska-punkers -- was signed to Profile in the early '90s), Jay-Kool brings a veteran's savvy to his latest effort. His lyrical focus on "good music, girls, street lyrics, and fun" engenders few original thoughts, but his polish and mic presence are evident from the jump, and the rude, crude denunciation of a female who's on his back for child support, "Baby Mama in da Hour of Chaos," demands attention, whether or not you sympathize with Jay's dilemma.

Musically, Drunk High & Sober shows what Scratchpaper impresario Eric Wilson can do when he pulls in his horns. Wilson's own debut, also out now, is a sampler of different styles, but for this disc, he gives Jay a minimalistic but hook-filled sound that owes a little to both hip-hop coasts. The furthest reach, the reggaefied "6Niggaz 5Blunts," is also the most memorable track. Besides the now standard problem of being far, far too long, this is a solid album that sounds like a major-label release.

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