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Various Artists: Bulworth: The Soundtrack

Album: Bulworth: The Soundtrack
Label: Interscope

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With its White-Senator-Gets-Funky-With-The-Black-Folks storyline and ugly poster featuring Warren Beatty dressed like the newest member of the No Limit Records roster, the political satire Bulworth has the potential to be a humiliating failure. An exponentially less iffy proposition, however, is the star-studded Bulworth soundtrack, an admirably diverse collection that focuses heavily on the Wu-Tang Clan (Cappadonna, The RZA, Method Man, and The Artist Formerly Known As Ol' Dirty Bastard each appear on separate cuts), the Refugee Camp (Wyclef Jean produces a pair of songs), an assortment of veteran hip-hop legends (Dr. Dre, LL Cool J, KRS-One, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, and B-Real's new project Psycho Realm), and a smattering of unproven talent. As can be expected of such a line-up, the album is strong but uneven: The Jean-produced "Ghetto Superstar" finds Pras Michelle and The Artist Formerly Known As Ol' Dirty Bastard winningly trading deft rhymes over a hypnotic synthesizer hook and a catchy chorus borrowed from "Islands In The Stream." But Jean's other contribution as a producer, "How Come," is a plodding mess that features Canibus waxing incoherently about politics, God, and socialism while Youssou N'Dour wails in the background. The Wu-Tang contributions are similarly inconsistent: Method Man and Ol' Dirty Bastard contribute strong verses to impressive all-star collaborations, while The RZA and Cappadonna add a pair of impressively produced but overly familiar gangsta narratives. And while the album's Dr. Dre/LL Cool J collaboration, "Zoom," is a propulsive jam matching vintage Dre production with LL's familiar but potent sex rap, the contributions of Ice Cube (with Mack 10) and Public Enemy sound forced and mercenary. It's far from essential, but Bulworth: The Soundtrack is a solid collection with enough great songs to more than compensate for the occasional lapse into mediocrity.