*** 1/2 The Notorious B.I.G., "Born Again," Bad Boy/Arista. Is Bad Boy head Sean "Puffy" Combs exploiting his friend's memory by having such recent sensations as Eminem and Beanie Sigel join in on some of the slain rapper's unreleased tracks? Maybe so, but it sure sounds good.
True, there are more guest artists than there are songs on the second posthumous B.I.G. album, but that's how most current rap collections are designed anyway. The rapper and his cohorts stick to standard rap subject matter, but Biggie's commanding voice, detailed scenarios and potent production more than compensate. For the Notorious B.I.G., it's always been as much how he said things as what he said. Of the songs here, perhaps only the poppish "Can I Get Witcha" with Lil' Cease couldn't have made it onto a regular Notorious B.I.G. album--and that's saying something.
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.