Blackalicious
The Craft
(Anti-)
From beat and word one of this record, you know something special is going on. No time is wasted on an intro or skit. No, “World of Vibrations” steps out with a big kick drum and thick piano chords to propel Gift of Gab’s message that, yes, something special is happening here. The impact is akin to The Roots’ Things Fall Apart, Outkast’s Stankonia, Jurassic Five’s Quality Control or further back to historic touchstones like De La Soul’s Stakes is High or Three Feet High and Rising. A unity and consistency in sound and vibe make this album air- and water- tight. Chief Xcel orchestrates some sharp players, including funk’s baddest, George Clinton, Beastie Boys percussionist Alfredo Ortiz and members of Femi Kuti (guitarist Sebastian Martel and keyboardist Herve Salters), to get down into the seam already mined by his electronic production. Doesn’t hurt to have the engineer, Russ Elevado, who worked up Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor and D’Angelo’s Voodoo. Ambition set in the music, Gift of Gab — Blackalicious’ lyricist and MC — follows suit, telling fully realized stories like “The Fall and Rise of Elliot Brown” and “Black Diamonds and Pearls,” even besting work on albums number two and three, Nia and Blazing Arrow. Add to this menu soulful jams like “Lotus Flower” with that sexy bridge sung by Clinton, and you’ve got a magnetic and urgent album. Resistance is futile.
—Sean Flinn
categories: Coast pick

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