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It has become a Hollywood trend to release a wack movie coupled with a banging soundtrack. Remember Poetic Justice, Above the Rim, and Street Fighter? Sunset Park fills only half of that prescription. The record is as dippy as a roller-coaster ride. First, the valleys: We begin with 2Pac’s disappointing “High ’Til I Die” (as if he had to tell us). Normally a tight lyricist, 2Pac appears to have slapped this song together; the tiredness of his lyrics is matched only by the track’s total lack of groove. Tha Dogg Pound continues the collage of wackness with “Just Doggin,” and much-hyped Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s pornographic “We Don’t Need It” is as juvenile as the group’s name. Onyx’s contribution, “Thangz Changed,” features some capable lyrics but sags in its production. And for the peaks: First there’s Ghostface Killer’s “Motherless Child,” a somewhat incoherent yet hypnotic story about a kid’s fall from glory. The RZA’s production, on point as usual, weaves an eerie piano riff, random screams, and a sampled hook into a tapestry that accents Ghostface’s sinister tale. Mobb Deep comes correct with gangsta rap East Coast–style on “Right Back at You,” hitting you off with a phat-ass bass line and some smooth lyrics. While it would be nice if the “hollow-tip crew” talked about something besides bussin’ caps, “Back at You” still is one of album’s highlights. The distance between Sunset Park’s highs and lows, though, makes for a bumpy ride. It’s the kind of album that programmable CD players were made for.—Ta-Nehisi Coates