Album review

Various : Kiss Presents Hot Joints
Universal Music TV

Various : Kiss Presents Hot JointsSeemingly the best of a fairly mediocre bunch of just-in-time-for-Christmas urban compilations, Kiss Presents Hot Joints spans rap to dancehall over two CDs and 39 tracks. Based on quantity of music alone, Hot Joints is difficult to criticise, and at first glance the expected big names seem to be intact.

Man of the moment 50 Cent kicks things off with In Da Club, closely followed by Eminem, Jay-Z and a back on form DMX. It's a stellar opening quartet, and it's an ensemble that's difficult to follow. Highlights are Joe Budden's Pump It Up, Nelly's Hot In Herre and Eve's fabulous Satisfaction, surely one of the best urban tracks of 2003. The mediocre is equally prevalent - Obie Trice's Drips (why not Got Some Teeth?) and The Truth from Truth Hurts to name but two - but none plumb the depths of LL Cool J on Paradise: "Belly to belly, one hand on the jelly, at the telly on the celly - get that money Elle." Hardly rhyming of distinction. Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg pull things back on track with the classic Still D.R.E., but overall it's a shaky first half.
    Just like its predecessor, disc two opens up with a big-hitting single. Fatman Scoop's Be Faithful is pretty much mandatory on an urban compilation at the moment, especially when the best Black Eyed Peas track Hot Joints can muster is a five year old Joints & Jams. While the first disc majors on US hip-hop with the odd dancehall excursion, this one seems to lose the plot halfway through; dipping its toes into garage thanks to Dizzee Rascal and So Solid Crew, and wandering into a lightweight r'n'b cul-de-sac that it never convincingly finds its way out of. Unless you count Big Brovaz. Which I don't.

What lets Hot Joints down is its patchy nature. Apart from Big Brovaz, it completely ignores the more popular exponents of UK hip-hop - no Roots Manuva, Black Twang or Adam F for example - and there's a whole pile of pivotal tracks from the last 12 months that are absent. No Frontin', Ignition or Ooh Wee, and nothing at all from Outkast, Missy Elliott or Busta Rhymes. With so much filler on-board there really is no excuse . . .

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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