Coolio's third album, My Soul, follows the same formula as its two predecessors, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Where others have failed as pop-rappers, Coolio succeeds because of his love of melody, message, and funky beats. My Soul lacks anything as monolithic as "Gangsta's Paradise," yet it has a more elaborate production, boasting obscure samples, violins, sound bites and guitars. It also is remarkably consistent, delivering very few subpar cuts over the course of the album. That would be enough to distinguish it from the ranks of overstuffed gangsta rappers, but what makes My Soul another winner is how Coolio is unafraid to be both serious and funny, catchy and funky. It's a small, subtle difference, but it's what makes My Soul a thoroughly enjoyable record, no matter if you're going out or staying in. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
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