For The Thug In All Of Us

Somewhere in the crush of swaggering lyricists who rhyme about frostbit wrists, ghetto perils and bedding another man's wifey, a few make you want to believe the hype. Newcomer Cap.One's Through the Eyes of a Don comes close.

On "They Luv Dat" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Thug in Your Life" (RealAudio excerpt), Cap.One uses a dramatic backdrop of rolling drums, keyboards and strings to accentuate his tales of a baller's lifestyle. The 22-year-old Chicago rapper's signature machine-gun delivery won't make you reach for a dictionary, but you may need to hit rewind to peep his rhymes.

On "Thug in Your Life" he raps, "[E]verybody wanna to live that thug nigga life/ Talking shit while he holdin' the dice/ Chain off the hook/ The roll full of ice/ Nigga bought two when they told me the price/ Still/ Rapping like a nigga need a deal/ Can't stop 'til I get my hands on a mil'/ Don't stop 'til them niggas know who the real/ Bust shots dead at the niggas with the steel."

Several personalities make guest appearances here, including Canibus, who raps on "Ladies & Willies" (RealAudio excerpt), Dwayne Wiggins (Tony Toni Toné) who lends guitar work to "They Luv Dat" and Tiny from Xscape who sings on "Creep." Even on these collaborations, Cap.One's mic prowess blazes through; like Jay-Z — who also claims the nickname "The Don" — Cap.One's vocal cadence and style may make you forget the album's tired subject matter.

Through the Eyes of a Don wasn't designed for fans who long for the De la Soul days of yore, but it may inspire a few to throw some Moet in the shopping cart and drive a little faster in the carpool lane.