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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

'Crime Family' Often Strays From TRU Grit

May 30, 1999|SOREN BAKER

TRU

"Da Crime Family"

No Limit/Priority

**

On its first album, 1995's "True," this supergroup anchored by Master P, Silkk the Shocker and C-Murder coined the "I'm 'Bout It" catch phrase that would eventually become No Limit's signature and help catapult the label and its extensive roster into the rap public's consciousness. Full of gangster raps and synthesizer-heavy production, the album did little to advance the genre with its recycled story lines and generic beats. Nonetheless, the set established the threesome as rap's newest family (they are, after all, brothers).

After 1997's multi-platinum "TRU 2 Da Game," TRU--whose initials stand for "the Real Untouchables"--returns with a 29-cut double album (in stores Tuesday) that contains more of the familiar, street-level stories heard on scores of gangster rap albums, not to mention nearly every one of No Limit's other releases.

When the group sticks to hard-core stories and sinister production from Beats by the Pound, it can be captivating. But too often on the new album they shift toward smoother, radio-friendly production and reflective raps that run counter to their strengths. Even with all of its star power, "Da Crime Family" comes off stale.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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