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Listennn... The Album

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Critics' Reviews

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Albums from a hip-hop crew's DJ have been iffy proposals since Terminator X started moonlighting from his usual gig in Public Enemy. Often rappers give their B-list tracks to the DJ album, and there's even more of a threat of no unifying factor to make the album flow. But Terror Squad's DJ Khaled is also a producer, and the host of numerous mixtapes -- where flow really matters -- including one of the best surrounding Lil Wayne's Tha Carter, Vol. 2, and it was up against a lot of stiff competition. While the cover artwork to Listennn: The Album looks very mixtape, Khaled is more a curator of the album, letting tracks fade out to conclusion even though he occasionally add his shout-outs. Whatever he did to land these tracks, it must have been amazing. First off, there's the massive "Problem" featuring Beanie Sigel reflecting on the state of hip-hop from behind prison walls with a hooky "Jay and Dame ain't speakin'/Game and 50 Cent beefin'" chorus over a great Khaled production. Sigel's lyrics will endear the track to every hip-hop fan, but whether you want to pick Kanye West's slick, snide, and so def "Grammy Family" as the runner-up, or the Southern balling "Holla at Me" with superstars Lil Wayne and Paul Wall bouncing off the next in line Rick Ross, depends on whether you vote North or South. The album leans toward the South and collects some tracks that have been making the mixtape rounds for a while toward the end. The selection isn't haphazard and the sequencing is just as good. Like Tony Touch did before him, Khaled has gone from behind the scenes to mixtapes to killer compilation host, all the while keeping his ear to the street. You can reap the benefits here. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi