After a long, silent slumber, the king of soul, horns and hip-hop's second golden age has awoken. Having sacrificed the keys of his hip-hop production kingdom to the King of Crunk -- and the prince of frontin' -- Rock recently released his first album in three years, Soul Survivor II, and it's apparent that he wants his crown back. Featuring guest turns from some of the hottest names of today (Talib Kweli, Slum Village, Dead Prez) and yesterday (RZA, GZA and, most notably, his former partner in rhyme, CL Smooth), Soul Survivor II finds Rock updating the soulful sample template he perfected on such mid-'90s classics as Mecca and the Soul Brother and "What I Am" with a freshly polished sheen that perfectly fits each of his contributors. While it remains to be seen whether radio will recognize the return of King Rock, Soul Survivor II may be his best solo album to date.
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