featured REVIEW


Blackalicious The Craft Anti • 2005

Chief Excel and Gift Of Gab return after two critically acclaimed albums and a magnificent underground classic called 'Melodica'. Things have changed a lot since that release, not only the music genre but also the group. Each album has been a step further in an eclectical adventure through the land of rap. Anno 2005, Blackalicious is more than your average hip-hop band.

Influenced by a dozen of music styles, Chief Xcel has managed to bring to the table an exquisite mixture of MPC4000-crafted beats and live instrumentation, graced with Gift Of Gab's rapid, nasal and hypnotic flow. 'MC's are puppets, me, I'm Jim Henson', yep, Gab has the strings in hand without loosening them, not even for a second. In the opening song, 'World Of Vibrations', he spits with fire, in 'My Pen And Pad', he flips flows at different paces and in 'Give It To You' he floats over the spacious beat infecting your Eustachian tube with inflammatory lyrics. Of both artists, producer Xcel has made the most remarkable step forward and without caring about what hip-hop purists would say, he seeks opportunities in mixin rock, funk, soul, African rhythms and cinematographic music with what is still the core of his music, hip-hop. More than a producer, he becomes an arranger and manages to build up a nice interaction between samples, vocals and live instruments, sung and played by musicians who performed with the likes of Fela Kuti, Spearhead and The Beastie Boys.

The first single of the album, 'Powers', with a groovy funk bass line, slammin guitar riffs and some soul singers, is Outkast all over, and swings like a nut. 'Lotus Of Flower' is even funkier, sure it is, because none other than the Godfather of Funk George Clinton blesses the chorus verses. 'Side to Side' is the party track of the album, with a curious trumpet loop that gives the song a folk-ish and even comical vibe, underlined by the appearances of Lateef -'When she spoke, I damn near dropped my jaw'- and Pigeon John -'I said my name was Pi-pi-pi-geon Johnny, stuttered a little bit, I felt like a big dummy. 'Black, Diamonds and Pearls' (like Lauryn Hill sung it in Nas' 'If I Ruled The World') is a fantastic track with a steamy bass line and smooth soul vocals reviving the days of The O'Jays, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes, just as 'The Craft' revives the days of 70's black movie soundtracks.

Gift Of Gab and Chief Excel return with grace and put together something that is much more than a rap album. People who still hold on to 'Melodica' are people with good taste but need to step up and evolve like the group did. That being said, we suggest you go to the store September 27 and pick this up!

POSTED ON 09|14|2005 by cpf

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