Easily one of the year's most unique hip-hop releases, Unwrapped Vol. 1 adds a new twist to the tried and true.

Easily one of the year's most unique hip-hop releases, Unwrapped Vol. 1 adds a new twist to the tried and true. Producers Tony Joseph and Darryl Ross have masterminded an instrumental set that injects jazzy sensations into some of hip-hop's recent hits. The reworking of midtempo tunes like Common's "The Light" and the Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance" seems like an ideal fit. But a saxophone-driven interpolation of Outkast's "Ms. Jackson" loses too much of the original's pop sensibility. As hip-hop's first generation begins to mature, a concept like Unwrapped, Vol. 1 may be right on time, but only time will tell how die-hard hip-hoppers will react to its softer, albeit groovy sounds.—RH