On "Say," the standout track on Method Man's groan-inducingly titled 4:21… The Day After (Def Jam), the Wu-Tang all-star borrows the passion and intensity of Lauryn Hill's frighteningly committed cover of Bob Marley's "So Many Things To Say" to fire back at critics who've accused him of going Hollywood. But even on "Say," Method Man sounds more surly and resentful than rife with righteous indignation. And with the exception of "Say" and the Redman collaboration "Walk On," the songs here simply aren't strong enough to rouse Method Man out of his interminable solo slump. The more he whines about being dismissed as a has-been, the more apt the label seems. Don't call it a comeback. Seriously, don't… C+

The Source made a mint pimping its Hip-Hop Hits compilations, but radio smashes are conspicuously absent from The Source Presents: Fat Tape (Koch), an uneven collection of tracks from sturdy old-timers (Tha Alkaholiks, Scarface), newcomers, and cult heroes (Dead Prez). The primary attraction is the set of five relatively obscure songs produced by DJ Premier—who's been uncharacteristically quiet as of late, apart from the new Christina Aguilera album. Most notably, there's AZ's ferocious "The Format," which finds Preemo working his signature magic on irresistibly cheesy '80s synths. For Premier fans, this is essential. For everyone else (and who doesn't love Premier?), it's a solid, though predictably hit-or-miss, overview of contemporary hip-hop… B

History hasn't been kind to Master P. But it's hard to overstate the role he and his Pen And Pixel-assisted No Limit factory played in transforming the South into the red-hot epicenter of hip-hop. The new double-disc, 34-track No Limit Greatest Hits (No Limit) provides a historic overview of P's rise and fall. Tracks like "Y'all Ain't Ready Yet," "Down 4 My N's," and "It Ain't My Fault 2" boast a crude anthemic force, but this characteristically bloated, filler-filled compilation quickly runs into a dead end. Even the good songs linger on long enough to wear out their welcome, and the preponderance of forgettable Mystikal sound-alikes and kiddie rappers (Lil Soldiers, Lil' Romeo) betray the label's weakness for cynical calculation and lame gimmicks. As a document of a label that broke down doors for the South, only to be usurped by the acts that followed, Greatest Hits has considerable sociological value, but musically, it's one hell of an endurance test. C

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