ALBUM: American Gangster
LABEL: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam

WHO HE IS: President Carter came out of retirement with last year’s Kingdom Come, but many of his diehard fans felt like he had grown up a little too much. Looking to recapture the essence of his criminal storytelling skills, Hova regrouped, watched a screening of American Gangster, and created a new album that’s way more Reasonable Doubt than “Show Me What Ya Got.” My man!

“Roc Boys (And The Winner Is…)”

PRODUCERS: Diddy, Sean C & LV, The Neptunes, DJ Toomp, Just Blaze, Jermaine Dupri, NO I.D., Bigg D

GUESTS: Lil Wayne, Nas, Beanie Sigel, Pharrell

Check out the January/February issue to see XXL’s official review of American Gangster.
Meanwhile, CLICK HERE to read XXL’s November cover story interview with Jay.

ARTIST: Cassidy
ALBUM: B.A.R.S. (The Barry Adrian Reese Story)
LABEL: Full Surface/J

WHO HE IS: After his successful debut Split Personality put him on the map with the single “Hotel” in 2004, this battle rap vet seemed poised for rap stardom. But just before the release of his follow-up I’m A Hustla in 2005, Cass was locked up for his involvement in a Philadelphia murder. After serving 8 months, he was released in March 2006. His third album reflects the hardships he’s been through, with a lot more reflective and conscious material than previous efforts.

“Innocent (Misunderstood)”

PRODUCERS: Swizz Beatz, Hi-Tek, Neo Da Matrix, Kanye West & Devo Springsteen, Bink, Nottz, The Individualz, Cassidy

GUESTS: Bone Thugs, Eve, Swizz Beatz, John Legend, Mark Morrison, Angie Stone

XXL’S VERDICT? CLICK HERE to read our review.

ARTIST: Statik Selektah
ALBUM: Spell My Name Right
LABEL: Showoff/Brick

WHO HE IS: This Lawrence, Massachusetts born DJ made his name on around Boston’s club scene and on the city’s WBOT Hot 97.7. But it was his mixtapes, with big name artists like Nas and Mobb Deep, that took his brand national and landed him frequent spots on Sirius Satellite’s Shade 45. After linking with up-and-coming MC Termanology, his rep for spotting talent has only gotten bigger. For his debut, he’s showing his muscle by assembling a laundry list of your favorite rappers’ rappers.

“6 N Da Mornin'” f/ Joell Ortiz, Sheek Louch & Kool G Rap

PRODUCERS: Statik Selektah

GUESTS: Jadakiss, DJ Premier, Q-Tip, M.O.P., Termanology, KRS-One, Joell Ortiz, Styles P, Cassidy, Freeway, Doug E. Fresh, AZ, Uncle Murda, The Alchemist, Large Professor, Red Café, Kool G Rap, Talib Kweli and many more.

XXL’S VERDICT? CLICK HERE to read our review.

ALBUM: Greatest Hits
LABEL: Columbia

WHO HE IS: The new Def Jam Nas seems to have discovered that controversy sells, but the old Nas liked to let his music speak for itself. Take a trip down memory lane with this collection of notable tracks from all of Nas’ Columbia albums, from Illmatic to Streets Disciple. The album also includes two new, previously unreleased tracks.

“Surviving The Times”

PRODUCERS: Trackmasters, Salaam Remi, DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, L.E.S., Chucky Thompson, Megahertz,

GUESTS: Lauryn Hill, Cee-Lo, Puff Daddy, AZ, R. Kelly

XXL’S VERDICT? We didn't review it, but there are some undeniable classics on here!