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Various Artists 

Loud Rocks (Loud)

Equal parts metal and rap, Loud Rocks succeeds in finding the marrow within a hip-hop/hard rock marriage that has eluded many projects in the past -- the ill-conceived soundtrack to the 1993 flick Judgment Night comes to mind as the most blatant example of good idea gone awry. The theme here is simple; neo-metal bands (Static X, Incubus, Sevendust), classic rock legends (Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi), and alternative rock acts (Everlast and Sugar Ray) each rework a hip-hop track by a Loud Records artist (Wu-Tang Clan, Big Pun, and the Alkaholiks, to name a few). The result of the well-matched pairings means that Loud Rocks has an integrity that's often lacking in the whole rap/metal scene.

There are plenty of highlights here, but no other collaboration epitomizes the disc's goal more than the teaming of innovative Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith with the Wu-Tang Clan on "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothing to Fuck Wit." At its crescendo, the song title is repeated over and over in a fashion that recalls Rage's anthemic refrain "Fuck you/I won't do what you tell me." Familiar ground maybe, but the aggression holds it together while the subtleties (Morello's guitar effects, Smith's urban beats, and the Clan's razor-sharp rhymes) transcend today's transitory neo-metal scene. Elsewhere, Sugar Ray parties with the Alkaholiks on their track "Make Room," seamlessly blending old-school street sounds and new-school hooks. Not only does Loud Rocks make good on the promise of finding common ground between these two proverbial heavy musical genres and rough lifestyles, but it succeeds in meriting repeated listens by eliminating the novelty factor associated with other failed projects of a similar nature.

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