Sounds like: The identity struggle continues
Short take: Wait for it ...
Lupe Fiasco hears the hype about his talents. And with The Cool, disc two in his promised three-disc career, the talented rapper comes closer to living up to the hype than he did on Food & Liquor. But The Cool's confused; he out-thinks himself too often (see the punny "Gotta Eat" and the over-produced "Superstar") to allow the real gems, like the (oddly enough) Patrick Stump-produced "Little Weapon," to shine beyond their looped beats' ends. Pete Freedman
Sounds like: Dance music for almost anyone
Short take: A deft summary
This is a great idea: Don't just do a greatest hits disc, don't just do a live disc, but do a live greatest hits disc. Better yet: Blend all your hits into one massive mix, where the hits interact with one another and create new songs via their mixing. That way, newcomers and megafans alike have something to get excited about. This is a giddy, ever-changing chimera as irresistible coming from car stereos as club woofers. Matt Martin
Mary J Blige
Sounds like: Little growth
Short take: Weren't we in for "No More Drama"?
For an artist who owes her career to singing about life's struggles, Mary J Blige has had it really good. But even on her eighth studio album, Blige offers up the same old song and dance, repping about how strong she is. This disc will sell (and satisfy diehards), but don't expect to find gems; aside from "Work That" and the slow- thumping, Ludacris-featuring "Grown Woman," it's a pretty blatant misuse of the who's who of producers it enlists. Pete Freedman