40cal.jpgThanks to their consistent mixtape onslaught, the Diplomats reign supreme when it comes to gritty street anthems. While core members Cam’ron, Jim Jones and Juelz Santana have been able to find mainstream success, the same has not held true for Dipset’s second generation. After making a splash with his ’06 mixtape, Broken Safety, 40 Cal. looks to prove he can carry the Diplomat flag with his follow-up indie album, Broken Safety 2.

Armed with witty wordplay and a choppy flow, the Fight Klub alumni sets off his lyrical attack with the Doe Boy–produced “40 Cal’s,” where he cleverly flips his own moniker 40 times (“I’m so lyri-cal/Y’all hysteri-cal/While I’m raping the track, you could call me Mysti-kal”). Next, 40 serves Hollywood’s most notorious users on “Celebrity Hustla.” He gets busy over the track’s stacked drum pattern, spittin’ lines like, “Couple thick chains that came from Rick James/I’m a smooth operator, daddy selling big ’caine.”

Not everything on the rookie’s debut runs smoothly. Showing his inexperience, Cal. mistakenly approaches the Akon-assisted “Outlaw” with the same aggression that he does his battle raps, resulting in an amateurish effort that never quite matches the song’s R&B underlay. His attempt at a chick record suffers a similar fate. “Gimme Some” is a contrived head anthem that, thanks to a limp hook, pops its cherry too soon.

Things only pick up when 40 calls in for backup. Juelz adds some flair to the 808-fueled “Dip-Dip,” and even Hell Rell breaks up the monotony by introducing a new flow on “Hostile Takeova.” Besides the occasional punch line, Broken Safety 2 doesn’t offer fans much substance, and that’s a problem Cal. needs to fix before taking aim at a spot in the big leagues. —ROB MARKMAN