Hip-hop's out-of-sight, out-of-mind philosophy makes successful comeback albums a rarity. Nostalgia for the genre's golden age of the early '90s, however, has ushered in a recent wave of rap resurrections. And two of the latest prove that the old adage "You can't go home again" is only true some of the time.
The debut of Westside Connection, hip-hop's first supergroup, was a memorable platter of venom flung eastward by Ice Cube, Mack 10, and WC, just weeks after Tupac's murder. The trio's second outing still has New York targets in its sights; it's just that someone forgot to tell Westside they're already dead. "So Many Rappers in Love" is a year too late in its attack on hip-pop thugs like Ja Rule, while "Superstar (Double Murder Double Platinum)" is a fairly hypocritical complaint from these gangsta pioneers about commercialized thugs. The creeping Moog basslines and Nate Dogg hooks sound as great as ever, but once you remove the failed attempts at topicality, you've got the same old G-funk. So why not listen to the first album (or The Chronic or Doggystyle) instead?
Good-natured goofball Biz Markie, meanwhile, has really come full circle. A decade ago, he lost a precedent-setting case over unauthorized sampling, which derailed his career. And now this comeback was nearly stopped in its tracks because -- you guessed it -- all samples weren't cleared. But you can't keep a character this irrepressible down, and if Weekend Warrior makes a couple of dubious concessions to the here and now -- guest shots from P. Diddy and rowdy ragga-toaster Elephant Man -- the Biz succeeds by sticking with the same warm, old-school beats as always and the same old philosophy, humbly confessed on "Tear Shit Up": He's "Not number one/but here to have fun." Your weekend needs a warrior like this.