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In Brief

*** Black Rob, "Life Story," Bad Boy/Arista.

March 12, 2000|SOREN BAKER

On his debut album, this New York rapper effectively represents gritty, lower-class struggle, a drastic departure from the typically glossy, upbeat sound and attitude of his Sean "Puffy" Combs-owned label. Rob traverses familiar, violence-driven street tales on the 21 cuts, but his narrative abilities elevate his work. His characters have a depth and reality achieved too rarely in hip-hop. Dramatic, varied production from Buckwild, Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie and others amplifies Rob's intense imagery.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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* Excerpts from Eels' "Daisies of the Galaxy" and other releases are available on the World Wide Web. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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