Though The Benzino Project is his debut album, Benzino is no stranger to the rap industry. He began his career as a member of the Almighty RSO and at the time of this album's release was a member of both Made Men and Hangmen 3, the latter a production team. Don't expect The Benzino Project to resemble either the previously released Made Men or Hangmen 3 albums too much, however. Here Benzino takes center stage and establishes himself as a charismatic rapper, unafraid to gloat. He does so with an impressive list of guests: P. Diddy, Outlawz, Scarface, Snoop Dogg, Pink, Foxy Brown, Black Rob, Prodigy, Bobby Brown, Cormega, and Raekwon. The Made Men and Hangmen 3 albums similarly featured an ensemble of guests, but not like this: Benzino brings in the best the industry has to offer here, not a bunch of no-names. You can't help feeling that he's showcasing his industry clout. And he probably is. As part of Hangmen 3, Benzino has worked with many of these artists, and now it's their turn to assist him. One unexpected guest who delivers a particularly vital assist is Teddy Riley, the veteran producer who here offers two standout tracks: "Boottee" and "Figadoh." It's not just these two tracks, though, that offer stunning beats. Every production here is actually quite stunning. Hangmen 3 clearly can craft beats. What's most surprising, however, is that Benzino could launch his own solo career with such charisma, which thankfully compensates for his average-at-best rapping. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi

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