On The Last Temptation, rapper/actor Ja Rule picks up where his 2001 release, Pain Is Love, left off, further favoring radio-friendly thug ballads with wispy-voiced chanteuses over the hardcore hip-ho

RELEASE DATE: Nov. 19

On The Last Temptation, rapper/actor Ja Rule picks up where his 2001 release, Pain Is Love, left off, further favoring radio-friendly thug ballads with wispy-voiced chanteuses over the hardcore hip-hop that marked his early career. Ubiquitous Murder Inc. stablemate Ashanti contributes to the album's two best moments—the Ja Rule-by-numbers "Mesmerize" (which follows in the vein of last year's Jennifer Lopez collaboration, "I'm Real") and "The Pledge Remix," which also features vocals from Nas and 2Pac. Other guest turns come from Bobby Brown ("Thug Lovin' "), the Neptunes ("Pop N****s"), and Charli Baltimore ("Last Temptation"). Ja and primary producer Irv Gotti have his sound—a mixture of salty rhyming and sweet vocals over smooth-as-silk samples—down to a science at this point. Predictable, perhaps, but such aural connections rarely fail as a crowd pleaser.—BG

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