Juelz Santana

What the Game's Been Missing! (Def Jam)

Charisma in the rap world usually equals the strut of someone who knows he's untouchable. Someone like Cam'ron, whose savant flow came with the underlying message of, "Yeah, I'm wearing purple fur, the fuck do you want?" On What the Game's Been Missing, Cam's protégé Juelz Santana brings his mentor's swagger — but with a toothy grin instead of a screwface. Santana is not merely a likable dude; he manages to infuse his entire sophomore album — a CD deep with stories of crack-game tragedy and threats of violence — with an unexpected positivity. The effect is intangible, especially when the standout tracks are the "Jamrock"-biting "Murda Murda" and "Make It Work for You," a square coke anthem with Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy. But above the fray of gunfire and overdramatic strings, Santana's swagger makes him sound like the coolest eighth-grade teacher in school, especially on "Shottas" and "Daddy" (Juelz's ode to his son). At 22 tracks, Missing is a little long, but Cam'ron's crew mostly comes through again. And if they don't, Santana may have a career waiting at his old elementary school.

 
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