Blackalicious – The Craft (CD)

The funky beat that drives ”Black Diamonds and Pearls” is only furthered by the inclusion of a number of different harmonies. This means that Blackalicious exists on a number of different eras and general sounds, providing the largest possible fanbase with music that is completely digable. “Ego Sonic Wardrums” might be the most fitting title of a song ever; the brooding backing beat add a sound that threatens to consume the dual vocals that provide the flow for the track. In a sense, these vocals move beyond simple conveyance of a narrative and create yet another instrument to the already-delightful array that Blackalicious can use.

The Tarentino-influenced backing beat for “Give It To You” brings back the sound to the early nineties, while the gospel influence present on the beginning of “Lotus Flower” looks back to Kirk Franklin. Ending the track with a spoken narrative that seems more “Thriller” than anything, the chaos created by the multiple harmonies really give the track a premature ending while the instrumentation continues for a minute too long. “Powers” starts out with an electronic-surf backdrop that is related to the pomp created by later Who; the larger rock influence in the track verges on Smash Mouth rather than the traditional area that Blackalicious has plumbed up to this point. Bringing back the rock for “Supreme People”, Blackalicious use the guitar riffs as nice breaks for their flows. This means that a tried-and-true style (going back to Run-D.M.C.) is mixed with authoritative vocals (earlier LL Cool J) to come up with something that is paradoxically as fresh as anything else on “The Craft”.

The quicker tempo of the backing beat really reminds listeners of Busta Rhymes, Bone Thugs N Harmony and even “Stanktonia-era” Outkast; after the track winds itself down, something that is virtually indistinguishable from the gangsta rap period of Ice Cube comes to be the dominant sound on the track. The overall sound of “The Craft” is not able to be coalesced into one specific style; perhaps the reason why the act named their album thusly was to proclaim to all theior listeners that the are equally talented in regards to al the styles that are found here. The general sound between tracks changes a great deal; pretty much the only constant to be found is the fact that Blackalicious continually comes up with solid tracks that work an infectious melody deep into their listeners’ ears.

Top Tracks: Your Move, Ego Sonic Wardrums

Rating: 6.9/10

[JMcQ]

Blackalicious – The Craft / 2005 Anti- / 14 Tracks / http://www.blackalicious.com / http://www.anti.com / Reviewed 07 November 2005

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