MADE (Rap-A-Lot)

By Scarface

Jay-Z may be the most notable rapper closing in on 40, but the former Geto Boy Scarface, at 37, is getting there, too, and his modest new album MADE could serve as a lesson for how to approach middle-age gracefully in a young man's game.

Maybe a little too gracefully, though—Scarface's production is predictably elegant and understated, accented by stately synths and strings, and his delivery is as low-key as ever. But his performance is too deadpan—only on the regrettably preachy "Who Do You Believe In" and the sharp "Git Out My Face" does he show any real energy—and the tempos are uniformly mid-tempo, with little of the doped, syrupy rhythm of his work with the Geto Boys. And a couple of the best songs—"Burn" ("My hands got powder burns, I just murdered a man"), featuring the cavernous bass of Houston rapper Z-Ro, and "Boy Meets Girl," with an R&B hook from Tanya Herron—are stolen by their guest stars.

MADE ends strong, with the elegiac "The Suicide Note," a song that recalls the frantic paranoia of his classic verse on "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me." But overall it's just not enough.