It was a MC-inderella story and debut that most upstart spitters can only wet dream about: signed to Ruff Ryders/Virgin, working with Wyclef and Kanye–all clear validation for every Asian-American working within hip-hop's color lines. But the fairy tale turned sour: Jin's release was postponed for two years resulting in disappointing sales (by major label standards). Unsurprisingly, Jin's sophomore album-which comes only four months after he recorded an angry joint that renounced the biz entirely-is a purist's re-dedication to his MCing roots. Propaganda's stripped, old-school beats might be less expansive, but they're a solid platform for the same nimble, cutting humor and flip-the-script flow that first made Jin a star-and he‘s still a star, albeit a more weathered one (check "G.O.L.D.E.N."'s ultra-sarcastic hook). As Jin observes on "Mr. Popular," commercial success is a fleeting enterprise–"Just a dream chased/like a shot of Henny"-but the MC art form stands on its own.