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Tha Alkaholiks  

Firewater (Waxploitation/Koch)

In a genre where topical disses and tapping the producer of the moment are often confused with artistic growth, you have to give Tha Liks points for consistency. On what they're claiming is their final album, Cali's infamous hip-hop drunks are staggering out the same way they stumbled in a dozen-odd years ago: The beats are big and the booze is flowing.

The one tune that could have gotten Tha Alkaholiks accused of trend-hopping -- "Chaos," the collaboration with the Grammy-nominated Danger Mouse -- is instead every inch a throwback. Over an old-school, funky-drumming sample, Tha Liks examine the liquor cabinet and inquire, "Goddamn homeboy, where all the gin went?" Over the course of the disc, the party eventually wanes, as always happens when thirtysomethings try to recapture that bacchanalian vibe of yore. But "Drink Wit Us" -- a funky honor roll of boozing partners that includes everyone from Snoop to the Deftones -- is a reminder that Tha Liks have never been lightweights in any sense of the word.

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