*** 1/2 REDMAN
"Doc's Da Name 2000"
First showcased by rap icons EPMD nearly a decade ago, Redman has proven that he's more than a mere underling. On his first three solo albums, the New Jersey rapper emerged as a charismatic lyricist who used hilarious stories and superior wordplay to create genuine hip-hop magic. Like many other hard-core rappers, he's unapologetic, profane, confrontational and sure of himself. Unlike the competition, however, Redman has a masterful command of language, allowing him to manipulate words and pronunciations as he weaves his hyperbolic tales of life in the ghetto.
"Doc's Da Name 2000" is yet another captivating trip inside the mind of one of hip-hop's most creative storytellers. It's one thing to rap about one of the genre's timeworn subjects (weed); it's another to breathe new life into the subject, as he does throughout the album by using memorable punch lines that are likely to be sampled on future hip-hop recordings.
Production from EPMD's Erick Sermon and Redman himself remains sparse, keeping the focus on what's being said. Still, these catchy, funk-drenched soundscapes draw attention. Less successful is a series of interlude-skits between songs that are funny the first time, but become tiresome after that.