In a mongrelized pop-music world where no new-metal band is complete without a DJ—and The Neptunes bring the funk for 'N Sync and Britney Spears, as well as Ol' Dirty Bastard and Noreaga—genre-hopping has become commonplace. But while Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, OutKast, and Wyclef Jean have proven adept at blurring the line separating hip-hop from other genres, compilations crossbreeding rap and other forms of music have been mostly hit-or-miss. In 2000, Loud Rocks fused hip-hop with grating, one-note metal, while the soundtrack for Blade II follows in the footsteps of the seminal Judgment Night soundtrack in pairing hip-hop superstars with major acts from another genre: in this case, electronic music. Blade II boasts a number of high-profile pairings, chief among them Mos Def with Massive Attack, The Roots with BT, and Ice Cube with Paul Oakenfold. With its sorely underrated debut Mind Over Matter, California's Zion I proved the feasibility of smart, ambitious electronic/hip-hop fusion, but most of the acts on Blade II take the easy way out, melding aggressive, uninspired rhymes to kinetic but forgettable sledgehammer beats. This is particularly true of Ice Cube's "Right Here, Right Now," which includes such ill-considered couplets as, "Recognize a real Don when you see one / and don't try to be one / I've been one for eons / You ain't nothing but a bitch!" Even The Roots and Mos Def, two of the most distinctive acts in music, get lost in the shuffle, presenting tracks that benefit neither side of the hip-hop/electronic equation. Though many of hip-hop's best and brightest fight a losing battle to stand out, a few acts distinguish themselves. The always-animated Redman fits right into Gorillaz's cartoon universe on "Gorillaz On My Mind," a glorified remix of "19-2000," while Bubba Sparxxx and Crystal Method's "PHDream" marks the most irresistible fusion of hillbilly and techno since Rednex pondered the origin and whereabouts of Cotton-Eye Joe. The Judgment Night soundtrack paved the way for the metal/hip-hop sound that's dominating the airwaves, but the disappointing Blade II looks unlikely to make a similar impact. Considering Night's legacy of dreck, that's probably for the best.

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