As a venue for grassroots hiphop experimentation, New York's Lyricist Lounge is fascinating. Like any good idea milked dry for its cash value, though, the franchise is considerably less interesting.
Lyricist Lounge 2 has little or no connection to the underground open-mike party of the same name that gave crucial, early career boosts to MCs like Mos Def and Notorious BIG. Mos Def might appear here on three different tracks, but putting him in the studio for high-profile collaborations with Macy Gray and Ghostface Killah isn't exactly underground. By including dull cuts by Beanie Segal, Cocoa Brovaz, Erick Sermon and Big Noyd, Lyricist Lounge 2 just ends up being another half-baked hiphop compilation with no real point, even more of a crime when you consider the number of anonymous MCs in New York who could use the exposure the Lounge once provided.MATT GALLOWAY