After mediocre success with their last two releases, 1990’s Back From Hell and 1993’s Down With The King, Run-D.M.C. returns to the charts with Crown Royal. However, it seems that all is not well in Hollis, Queens. D.M.C. appears on only a couple of tracks and even then sees limited microphone time, due to his desire to pursue solo projects.

With a dearth of D.M.C., Reverend Run and Jam Master Jay recruited a number of younger artists for guest spots (11 out of the 12 tracks are collaborations). Unfortunately, the selections appear to be heavily influenced by a label desperate to connect popular names to the aging rappers in order to appeal to the 18 to 24 demographic. How else could you explain tracks four to eight, which feature, in order: Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, Kid Rock, Everlast, Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins and Sugar Ray? And would someone please take the microphone away from Jermaine Dupri, the diminutive Atlanta producer who “Puff Daddy’s” his way through two tracks with rambling, bullshit commentary?

This isn’t to say that the album is a complete bust. The beats and production are incredibly tight, thanks to Jay and executive producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Run’s duet with Kid Rock, “The School of Old,” is definitely a headbanger, twisting new lyrics around lines from the classic Run-D.M.C. canon. But imagine a Beastie Boys album with only one Mike D song or a Wu-Tang album with no Method Man (Meth does make a dope cameo on the closer, “Simmons Incorporated,” furthering his reputation as the most ubiquitous rapper in the game). Let’s hope that the Kings of Rock can settle their differences and one day put out another disc that’s more about them and less about trying to duplicate the Carlos Santana formula for comebacks.