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Maino: If Tomorrow Comes

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Maino's story is an inspiring one. The Brooklyn rapper emerged from 10 years in prison for a drug-related kidnapping to start his own record label and eventually sign a deal with Atlantic. If Tomorrow Comes is his long-awaited debut, and occasionally it is inspiring, too. Assisted by gargantuan production from folks like Swizz Beatz, G.Q. Beats and Just Blaze, tracks like "Million Bucks," "Back to Life" and "All the Above" are exhilarating chronicles of his unlikely success story. But the work quickly falls off a cliff, abandoning the inspirational tone in favor of well-trod pop-rap concepts — about how he runs with criminals (duh), how he enjoys making pornographic films (gross), and how he dreams of killing his baby mama (wait, what?). If Maino were doing anything unique with cadence or pacing this could be overlooked, but he isn't, and so If Tomorrow Comes feels like an opportunity squandered. (Atlantic) 2 stars out of 5

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