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Da Brat, Life After Death

Da Brat makes her formal return to music after a three-year prison bid with her new tape Life After Death. With the release, we see that Brat’s rapping hasn’t changed dramatically since her last record back in 2003. This new offering is short and to the point, as the So So Def veteran from the Chi chooses some of today’s most popular beats to go in over as she tries to successfully reemerge from the depths of having not released a steady flow of music in the internet age.

She still in some ways resembles a female Snoop Dogg in her flow, though here she raps awkwardly through auto-tune on her “Racks” cover. “Get It” sees the femcee kick an impressive double-time flow over airy guitar strum, though the featured Jadakiss easily outshines her on cruise control. Da Brat deserves respect for being adaptable: she conforms to the “9 Piece” instrumental with ease and comes close to matching a show-stealing Twista on the thumping “Dumb Stupid Crazy.” Yet Brat sounds best on “West Side,” a laidback G-funk number that consciously recalls the sound of her ’94 debut Funkdafied. “Second Chance” is an honest look at the trials and tribulations she’s been through, and though it’s by no means outstanding, the honesty is refreshing.

The tape is heavy on remixes of current chart hits, with only four original tracks, and the whole affair comes off a bit desperate in Brat’s trend-hopping. Her rhymes are at times lazy (“You could not do what I used to/I am the past, present and future/Even if you was mustard you couldn’t catch up,” she spits on “Fab 5 Freddy”), but rap fans should be happy she’s home. Here’s to hoping she has better luck hitting her stride on the next go round. —Aaron Matthews

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