Ice-T/Various Westside

At first glance, having Ice-T appear on the cover of a compilation of West coast hip-hop seems like a good idea. After all, Ice-T has often been credited with creating (for better or for worse) the first "gangsta rap" recording, "6 In The Mornin'," which actually kicks off this compilation. In the insightful interview tacked on to the end of the first disc of this double CD set, Ice-T acknowledges the artistic debt that "6 In the Mornin'" owes to Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D's topically similar yet more oblique "P.S.K." But Westside isn't a gangsta rap compilation. Instead, this double album, 29-track compilation has attempted to include every popular rap artist from Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Therefore, for every classic track there's an MC Hammer or Skee-lo track to wade through as well. While hope is held out that the interview with Ice-T will somehow help to bring these rather disparate strains of music together, or to explain why the Lost Boyz, a New York group, are included in the compilation, this is effectively squashed when the interview goes wayward and insists on procuring Ice-T's opinions on geopolitical situations that have absolutely nothing to do with the record we are listening to. There's plenty of classic material, including Cypress Hill, Souls of Mischief and Dr. Dre, especially on the first disc. But the selections are hardly radical, are probably owned by most hip-hop connoisseurs and don't seem to have a whole lot to do with the man on the cover. (Obsessive)