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Shoboat 

The North Star (Mactown Entertainment)

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A few tracks into The North Star, before MC Shoboat even announces that "I ain't satisfied unless my Swiss is stacked up and pilin'," it's already clear this disc is loaded with cheese. Two of the album's first three cuts are redundant odes to hot rides and the rims they roll on. Perhaps this is only fitting; Shoboat's stuck in second gear all throughout Star. He lacks identity on the mic, from the by-the-numbers menace of "U Gone Get It" to the crotch-grabbing hyperbole of "Drop N' Ya."

But it's not as if the young rhymer is without talent. His flow is fast and flawless on cuts like "Hustle," and he shows he's capable of some clever lines on "Ball Out" ("My pockets are like water fountains, 'cause they constantly flowin'"). He's even more promising behind the boards, where his slinky, strings-and-keys-buoyed beats are colorful and inventive. Thankfully, Showboat's potential shines bright, even if The North Star doesn't.

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