Collaborations in hip-hop music can be either brilliant or destructive; those familiar with the latest album from Chaundon, a member of the Hall of Justus crew, know this particularly well. The Bronx native rose to relative fame through his guest spots with fellow posse members Little Brother and producer extraordinaire 9th Wonder. However, Chaundon suffers on his debut LP, Carnage, by allowing too many other emcees to share ? if not steal ? his spotlight.

The album?s opening trio of songs features Chaundon desperately trying to prove that he?s not to be messed with. He does so on ?The Greatest Warrior,? a proud but unconvincing song that is luckily saved by solid production from Illmind. ?Don?t Take It Personal? is a quality song with a smooth chorus from guest artist Daniel Brockington, and is also the first juncture of the CD where Chaundon shows he can spit a nice verse: ?Kept creating/ Didn?t pay mind to the hating/ Fools so quick to talk, they speed racing.? The next track, ?3 Kings,? is a huge misstep, as Chaundon gets shown up by other New York rappers Torae and Skyzoo. This trio?s claim that they are the kings of the Big Apple is like calling yourself the next Jordan after making a couple of baskets in that pickup game you played in the suburbs last weekend ? it just doesn?t add up.

This pattern continues with ?Gone,? on which super femcee Jean Grae drops a fierce verse over a soulful 9th beat while Chaundon creates more yawns with lame rhymes and a boring flow. He does save face on the album?s title track, however, with some clever metaphors and references, but he characteristically reverts to his old habits on the following songs.

Fellow rapper Sean Price actually sounds like an upgraded Chaundon on ?Submission,? while the album closes on a disappointing note with ?We Are Here.? This track finds Chaundon taking a backseat to the plethora of no-name rappers ?? how he didn?t come up with a better verse over such a fun beat is a head-scratcher.

Not everything went wrong on Carnage, though. Although Chaundon does sound incredibly average, most of the songs are still listenable. Production was on point from the aforementioned producers 9th Wonder and Illmind, as well as in-house work from Khrysis. Most problematic are Chaundon?s limited themes and exhausted topics such as the struggles of life in the ghetto, how great of a rapper he is, and so on. This leaves him sounding far too unoriginal to be deserving of significant praise.

With nine of the album?s 14 songs featuring guest emcees, Chaundon fails to establish himself as legit and capable of standing by himself. What?s disappointing is that most of the album?s best songs avoided guest artists, leaving too few songs for Chaundon to call his own. By being more selective in choosing whom to collaborate with, Chaundon could have turned Carnage into a respectable record, but instead, it?s simply mediocre.

2.5 stars out of 5