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Young Buck 

Buck the World (G-Unit/Interscope)

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The autumn release of 50 Cent's Curtis surely has Interscope execs sweating like pigs praying not to be butchered. Will Curtis save the G-Unit empire or hasten its demise?

While they're waiting, the suits should parse related releases for hints. The formulaic Rotten Apple, the sophomore effort from Lloyd Banks, went top three. Nashville rhymer Young Buck (aka David Brown) repeated Banks' achievement with his own second disc, Buck the World. However, unlike his fellow G-Unit member Banks, Buck achieved success by reaching beyond the posse's signature sound.

Finding inspiration in his southern roots, he also looks outside the G-Unit stable for guests like Ky-Mani Marley and Lyfe Jennings. But that doesn't make Buck the World a better album. Other than "Slow Your Roll," a roll call of the dead and damned, Buck is as lyrically stunted as before. And the most memorable track, "Lose My Mind," is skeletal, screamed hip-hop produced by G-Unit mentor Eminem.

If Buck the World doesn't totally buck the G-Unit orthodoxy, it at least shows there's life beyond Fiddy -- a fact that could mean a lot more this fall.

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