Various Artists

Big Boi Presents... Got Purp?, Vol. 2
(Purple Ribbon/Virgin)

Big Boi Presents... Got Purp?, Vol. 2
Big Boi Presents... Got Purp?, Vol. 2
Big Boi Presents... Got Purp?, Vol. 2
Certain things in life invite the most diminished expectations possible: children's books written by celebrities, the pizza at Chinese buffet restaurants, Oberlin College athletics. And, of course, compilations on hip-hop vanity imprints. But this collection from Big Boi's renamed Purple Ribbon Records bucks conventional wisdom, marking the pragmatic half of OutKast as that rare rap auteur with good taste -- as well as good friends.

Of course, the artistic success of Got Purp? isn't a complete shock, since it's a who's who of the more adventurous acts in mainstream southern hip-hop, including Killer Mike, down-home MC Bubba Sparxxx, the George Clintonesque Cee-Lo Green, and a reunited Goodie Mob. All those artists turn in solid tracks -- and the Mob's "Hold On" is a worthy continuation of their legacy of props to the common man.

But the real revelation here comes in Big Boi's roster of R&B acts. The most promising is Scar, who combines Omarion-style teen appeal with a dash of Seal's mystique. The most immediate is Janelle Monáe, whose electrofunk "Lettin' Go" is a lost-my-shitty-job-so-let's-party song so giddy, it might have you begging for a pink slip. And the most impressive is veteran Sleepy Brown. His "Me, My Baby, and My Cadillac" is soaring southern soul, serving notice that Big Boi's label is officially on a roll.

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