The Professional, Vol. 3

Artist: DJ Clue?Title: The Professional, Vol. 3Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Claudio Cabrera

"The Professional" is DJ Clue?, who for the last decade has kept his faithful salivating on street corners, or near speakers, to hear what's dropping next, early. Remember when Clue? broke the disses between Beanie and Jada? Jay and Nas? If it was an exclusive, the Queens DJ had it before anyone. A lot of rappers have a hard time making the transition from mixtapes to albums, but as a DJ, Clue? made it look easy with solid efforts including the platinum and gold selling The Professional and The Professional, Part 2, respectively. However, his latest album, The Professional Part 3 (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam) seems to be missing evidence of much new heat. Close to five years after dropping his last LP, it seems like Clue forgot how to put together a solid album.

If your going to name your album The Professional, you might as well start it off with a known pro like Nas. QB's true G shines over the album's standout cut, "War," which packs concrete cracking drums with opera organs over a furious, rapid flow from Esco. Keeping it in Queens, Mobb Deep drops one of their best cuts in years with "The Gold" over Spanish guitars and an intoxicating, soulful female voice whispering "glimmering, glistening, and shimmering." One of the most anticipated albums for 2007 comes from Fabolous, who here sounds like the Fab before he got signed on "Da Boss" where he pays tribute to the Bill Gates and Donald Trumps of the street and "Like This," featuring Kanye West, where both ride the rickety beat with over the top braggadocio.

Remakes usually never turn out well and The Professional 3 exhausts two of them to death. Lame is the best word to describe Fabolous' appearance on "I Really Wanna Know You," which features Jagged Edge remaking Jodeci's classic "Come and Talk to Me." Some things should be left untouched. Same goes for Mario Winans and Game's attempts to remake Jay-Z's "A Week Ago." Two parts of the song appear and none equates to the Hov classic.

The Professional 3 continues its amateur approach on tracks like "Clear Da Scene" with Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, and "F*ck Off" featuring Young Jeezy and Juelz Santana, which should've been taken the "F Off" the album. Both songs sound like all four MC's took four minutes to write their rhymes. "Almost F*cked" featuring Snoop Dogg sounds like a techno attempt to gain a European crowd which you'd expect to hear Tony Parker over before Snoop.

In the end, the guest artists Clue brought on board rival any other DJ's project. Problem is, the album failed to deliver as a whole because of lackluster production, concepts, and rhymes. In a year where DJ Khaled dropped a solid debut LP, Clue's can't even hold a candle to it. Let's hope next time Clue? comes with some fresher ideas.