Sex, Money & Gunz Repossession

What happens when you put together a hustler, a player, and a gambler? Sex, Money & Gunz, the return of gangsta rap. The rumours of a project between Smoothe Da Hustler, one of rap’s greatest street lyricists, his occasional partner Trigger Tha Gambler and the West coast O.G. Ice-T have been floating around for years and only became fully realised when an Ice-T-sanctioned album popped up last year. Now it’s official thanks to Penalty Recordings. The beats, supplied primarily by Charlemagne and Mark Live, merge g-funk with East coast boom-bap into a comfortable backdrop for all three MCs, although it takes DJ Ace with his head-banging "Bang Bang” to deliver the album’s most probable hit. Yeah, the subject matter is a given, but each rapper makes a refreshing return. Iceberg is at his recent best here, with the possible exception of his work in Analog Brothers. Smoothe, the big poppa of broken language, is still twisting and manipulating the English language for his stories of the trife life. Trigga holds his own throughout but is particularly impressive with the conceptual "My Gun.” Oh, and there’s also some guy named Deuce Fever that laces a few tracks without really doing any harm. Ice-T’s intro is a little long but the one-two-three punch that follows more than makes up for an easily-skipped track. With the piano-heavy, fist-pumping anthem "Repossession,” SMG attack and reclaim their territory; then they make a sarcastic bid for "Radio Play,” a classic g-funk beat that continues to play up the keys, and finally tear it up with "Bang Bang,” the b-side to first single "Compton Brooklyn.” Frankly, there’s little to complain about. Repossession might just be the best hip-hop album this year. (Final Level/Penalty)