Various Artists, "Cold Chilling: Compton" (PRMD)
California knows how to party. So goes the refrain on 2Pac's enduring rap favorite "California Love." That love is on display in the form of an homage on "Cold Chilling: Compton," an album of reimagined takes on West Coast rap classics.
Musically, the release is polished. The vocals are carefully crafted and the lyrics are true to their origins. But songs like Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice," reworked by The Rooks, seem conflicted. The lyrics don't seem a solid fit for the mature, lush vocals. Moreover, the saxophone work is too lazy, even for the medium-paced song.
Also lackluster: "Hail Mary" by Mackaveli (aka 2Pac). Pop song cover rendition specialist Dan Henig rattles off the appropriate verses, but it comes off dry and without the emotional punch that the staccato rap style of 2Pac might have injected.
The best track is "Tha Crossroads" delivered by Los Angeles singer-songwriter Dannelle Sandoval. The inventive minimalist arrangement of the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony hit with her sweet vocals feels just right, and she quickens the vocals in all the right places. Sandoval keeps just enough of the old-school flavor intact while adding her distinct approach. Her track is a gem, while most of the others sound like dull wedding band fodder.
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