Barbershop 2 isn't likely to offer as direct a challenge to black orthodoxy as Cedric the Entertainer's priceless three-word dismissal of Jesse Jackson in the first film. And that goes double for the accompanying music, a sleek, businesslike collection of potential urban singles out to follow trends, not set them.
With its creeping West Coast hook provided by Dr. Dre, "Not Today" was a standout on Mary J. Blige's Love and Life and sets the tone here: Not a killer single, it's nonetheless cool, confident, and focused. Floetry's funky duet with Mos Def, "Wanna B Where U R," reveals itself as a neosoul gem. The most intriguing new tune is "I Can't Wait," where the eccentric rhymes of OutKast's Dre -- matched to a pillow-soft hook from Sleepy Brown -- are a delight.
Those moments help offset high-profile duds from G-Unit, whose "Unconditionally" is the sort of soppy, poppy thug romance that blurs the line between 50 Cent and his whipping boy, Ja Rule, while the Neptunes are exposed as emperors with no clothes on the featherweight minimalism of the Clipse's "Pussy." Shaving those two tunes and a pair of generic crunkers by Interscope's new diva, Olivia, is just the haircut Barbershop 2 needs.