When you look at Capone-N-Noreaga [click to read], what you’re seeing is a window to the past. As Jay-Z [click to read], Nas and Mobb Deep [click to read] have all evolved away (and sometimes back again) from their ’90s selves, CNN, as a unit, has not. Yes, N.O.R.E. went towards Neptunes followed by Reggaeton, but as fans seek another Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt and Infamous, Channel 10 is rooted in The War Report.

Following the intro, Capone and N.O.R.E. let the listener know it’s CNN for life on “United We Stand.” It’s not an outstanding opener, but it is anthemic and serves its purpose. The album shifts into high gear with the lead single, “Rotate” [click to listen]. Ron Brownz‘ frantic beat, coupled with strong performances from Noreaga, Capone and always-reliable guest Busta Rhymes [click to read] make this a strong candidate for under-the-radar club hit of the year. It is here where Ron Browz sounds less like low-budget T-Pain, and steps into his own as a songwriter.

“Talk To Me Big Time” doesn’t achieve its intended effect with its pseudo-epic backdrop, and “Bring It Here” sounds like a watered-down version of The Game‘s “Westside Story.” Fortunately, you’ll forget about both of these completely upon getting smacked in the face by the DJ Premier-laced “Grand Royal” – and I do mean laced. Preme‘s sinister keys, and a hook that’s essentially him showing off his considerable technique behind the boards, make CNN rise to the occasion in a big way.

“Grand Royal” is Channel 10‘s strongest cut, though not its most surprising. That title goes to “The Argument,” which sees the two emcees going back and forth about overcoming their differences:  “We both had hoes, now you go too many/We dirty now, why you still drink Henny?” rhymes Noreaga, to which Capone retorts, “Nigga we raised on Henny, why you actin’ loose?/You think you kinda narrow now that you drinkin’ Goose?” But don’t think it’s just petty arguments, as the partners-in-rhyme delve deeper, with N.O.R.E. revealing “My first solo album, I set it up for our future/You was locked up, but still executive producer.Capone continues the train of thought, spitting, “It was supposed to be the same on my first album/But the lines got switched, nigga was we wylin’.” The song juggles humorous squabbles and real-life drama between the emcees effortlessly, and is a touching testament to their friendship.

Mobb Deep join in on “Wobble,” which boasts a dramatic beat courtesy of Havoc. Prodigy‘s verse adds very little, but it may not matter, as N.O.R.E. provides the line of the album: “Her pussy is tighter than Kanye‘s shirt.” “Channel 10” is the requisite “we ain’t goin’ nowhere” track, and as a result fails to impress. “Beef” and “My Life” are similarly uninteresting, and are dragged down by bland production. “Stick Up” has CNN in crime story mode, and the unsettling musical backdrop, which appears to sample some early Nintendo sound effects, completes the picture.

In listening to Channel 10, it’s clear that Capone-N-Noreaga aim to appease the same fan base that have held them down for over a decade; but while the intent may be there, the execution isn’t always smooth. The album could use more “Follow the Dollar” and “Grand Royal,” and less “Addicted” and “Beef.” Fans who hear the album won’t be able to say that ‘Pone and N.O.R.E. don’t go in on the majority of the tracks, and will likely be satisfied; the fact remains, however, that this is an extremely uneven effort. But in a day and age where the artists of yesteryear are switching up their styles in an attempt to remain relevant, one thing is for certain – this is CNN.