* * 1/2 "Rap: The Lyrics," edited...

* * 1/2 "Rap: The Lyrics," edited by Lawrence A. Stanley, Penguin Books ($15). Can rappers' rhymes work on the printed page? On the evidence of this comprehensive collection of transcribed rap lyrics, probably not--as they were probably never meant to. This is a good collection, completely uncensored, set out in reasonable-looking verse and remarkably free of the blatant mistakes that usually mark transcriptions of rap lyrics. Still, the selection can read more like the work of an obscenity law attorney (which it is) than the product of a real rap fan: Most of the major artists are here, but the song choices often seem arbitrary.

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