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Various Artists: Unwrapped, Vol. 3

Unwrapped Vol. 3 is the third release in Hidden Beach’s popular series of smooth-jazz interpretations of hip-hop songs. By eliminating the rap vocals, the tunes shift the emphasis to the music underlying the hits, and some of these interpretations can be quite creative. 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” is a horn-driven number with a pulsing groove and an old-school vibe, while Busta Rhymes’ “I Know What You Want” is a graceful Latin number accented by Spanish guitar, flute and percussion, and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is propelled by aggressive violin and urgent, fiery guitar. The album features medleys paying tribute to three deceased hip-hop superstars: Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., and Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC. Tupac’s medley has a classic R&B feel, while Biggie’s has a contemporary vibe and the tribute to Jam Master Jay’s is rock-edged. Fans of harder hip-hop may give this a pass, but smooth-jazz fans will likely make this collection as successful as the previous two.

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