The Sick Wid It Umbrella/Various Artists

Fedi Fetchin'

An organization is only as strong as its leader, and with E-40 -- one of the bay's most influential rappers -- at the helm of the Sick Wid It Umbrella, it's safe to expect greatness. It's no surprise, then, that even with 20 tracks and three dozen artists, this compilation is more consistent than most single-artist albums. The songs reach beyond bay rap to include R&B (Mike Marshall), crunk (Al Kapone), and dancehall (Rankin' Scroo), but the hodgepodge of producers respects and achieves the greater sonic goal: a cohesive, complementary sound throughout. 40, ever the family man, plays host to his cousin B-Legit and his teenage son Droop-E, who rhymes and produces four tracks including the standout "Don't Let the Glasses Fool Ya" (a warning against confusing bad boys for bookworms that also features B-Slimm on the mike). Rookie-of-the-year candidates Turf Talk and Federation grace several tracks with their innovative and inimitable styles, but you never lose sight of who the capo is here. With E-40's endless, effortless, and wildly original rhymes, his hard-earned star status is never in question, and yet he seems content to let others get their shine. Chalk it up to being a proud poppa.

 
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