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**, VARIOUS ARTISTS, "America Is Dying Slowly," EastWest

August 04, 1996|Cheo Hodari Coker

From KRS-One's "Jimmy" in 1989 to Ice Cube's "Look Who's Burning" in 1991, rap artists were preaching safe sex long before it was a cool thing to do. "America Is Dying Slowly," the hip-hop nation's contribution to the Red Hot organization's ongoing AIDS fund-raising and education campaign, is a noteworthy musical effort, uniting some of the biggest performers (Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Coolio) and most prolific producers (Pete Rock, Prince Paul, RZA) for a record that rocks hard for a worthy cause. But much of the album veers toward the misogynistic, souring the otherwise good vibrations of the thumping beats.

While the Wu-Tang Clan's sobering "America" and the GOODIE Mob's funky "Blood" stick to the point, songs such as Mobb Deep's "Street Life" and Money Boss Players' "Games" have more to do with the drug game than safe sex. And sexist drivel such as Sadat X, Fat Joe and Diamond D's "(Stay Away From the) Nasty Hoes" and Eightball & MJG's "Listen to Me Now" place the blame on women who lure helpless men to their doom.

Add the fact that female emcees are missing from the project and "America Is Dying Slowly" comes off as a misguided project, with all the musical power but little of the organization or lyrical content to take its listeners to a higher awareness.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

* TimesLine 808-8463

To hear excerpts from the albums reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code. "America Is Dying Slowly" *5712

In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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