As Hip Hop grows, some of the elements that formed the genre
continue to get left behind. One ingredient that has survived it all, is the
mixtape. This crucial tool that helps keep the artist connected with his or her
fans in between albums, still plays a major role in their success. Although we
live in an age of downloading and file sharing, the mixatpe thrives as one of
the staples in Hip Hop.

Only a handful of deejays mastered this art form and kept us fiending for the
next diss, freestyle, or exclusive track. Queens native DJ Clue has been a pioneer on the mixtape circuit for a little over
a decade now, bringing us material from artists way ahead of time, and probably
without them knowing. Clue revolutionized
the mainstreaming of mixtapes by releasing “official” mixtapes: The Professional in 1998, and The Professional pt. 2 in 2001. With
little promotion, both albums still managed to reach gold status. Now in 2006, Clue returns with The Professional pt. 3. Having built a good rapport with artists
over the years, it wasn’t hard to recruit the biggest names from each coast and
everywhere in between.

The album starts off with a one verse intro by fellow Queens brethren, Nas, and it wouldn’t be a Clue tape without him shouting over the
songs – the obnoxious trend Clue is
credited with popularizing. “Fuck Off” features the paring of Juelz Santana and Young Jeezy, while trading drug and gun stories. Jeezy adlibs his way through another
mediocre verse that’s painful to listen to. And we hear Mobb Deep bring back their vintage gritty street sound on “The Gold.”

Clue‘s top bread winner Fabolous gets top billing on the album,
appearing on three tracks – one of them being a remake of Jodeci‘s “Come and Talk To Me,” which features Jagged Edge. “Grill and Woman” brings together Houston heroes Paul Wall and Mike Jones who, even after a significant leave of absence, can’t
get away from the candy paint. Apparently, Mike
still has the same phone number.

Philly shows some brotherly love on “Liberty Bell” as Freeway forgets about the lyrical drubbing Cassidy gave him in their infamous battle, and joins in alongside
him and Beanie Sigel. A few standout
tracks are “Ugly (Thug It Out)” by Jadakiss,
“Almost Fucked” by Snoop Dogg, and “The
Animal” by Styles P.

Like virtually every mixtape, compilation or soundtrack, the majority of the
artists don’t bring their “A” games. Even though the album is filled with some
of the top names in Hip Hop, it doesn’t match up to the previous editions,
leaving this professional more at a pro-am level.