Sorry -- there won't be any Missy Elliott or Snoop Dogg on this stop of the self-proclaimed "first true annual hip-hop festival." Except for Fabolous, a rather anonymous platinum seller, each of these acts offers the best and most lucrative that rap has to offer in the 0-3. Channeling Shaggy -- on speed -- Sean Paul's ubiquitous dance-hall pop single "Get Busy" is impossible to deny. Too bad Dutty Rock, his album, doesn't have another handful of ditties just like it. Busta Rhymes, meanwhile, may be in danger at this point of becoming another Nate Dogg -- a guy better known for his cameos than for his own joints -- but he always brings his surprisingly sophisticated energy and humor.
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Still, all eyes dart toward the two headliners. Way before the release of Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 Cent had been pegged as the next Jay-Z. And although "In Da Club" might very well be this year's most lethally seductive single, he hasn't yet made an album of top-to-bottom quality -- though perhaps we can give him props for calling Ja Rule "Cookie Monster" on one track. That leaves the crown still squarely on the head of Mista Jigga. Even if his Blueprint sequel is rampant with filler -- how could it not be, unfolding as it does over two discs? -- the MC has made his name as a world-class record maker and performer. And he didn't even have to die tryin'. Or, given 50 Cent's history with bullet wounds, is that try dyin'?