By Chris Pacifico

Just about the only rapper aside from Ol’ Dirty Bastard who can truly live up to his name, Gift of Gab is one half of the Bay area duo Blackalicious. Together with genius producer Chief Xcel, they have made what is no doubt a staple of their career with The Craft as they are well at home with a label as innovative and as boundary-pushing as Quannum.

“World of Vibrations” is some twinkling crunk that evokes thoughts of the more modern De La Soul, but with more of a space-age vibe. However, the real craft is exhibited on the street-smart beats of “Supreme People” - a track that deals with urban economic hardships. During the song, Gab makes a witty reference to the cheesy commercials that McDonalds put out in the late 80s with a line like “Don’t nobody wanna get a promotion up to fry cook like little Calvin did.” The bubbly bump in “Rhythm Sticks” is ripe for igniting a dance floor whereas a lurking club-trot is abound with “Your Move,” and “Powers” will make you want to jump out of your seat and scream “Hallelujah!”

So far, Blackalicious have proven themselves to be legends in their own time, which means that it is only befitting for them to have a legend such as George Clinton guest star on “Lotus Flower.” Clinton's presence adds a touch of astro-funk similar to that heard on his 1976 masterpiece Mothership Connection. Fellow underground hip-hop hero Lateef the Truth Speaker lends his skills on “Side to Side” as do UK soul divas Floetry on “Automatique.” And let us not forget the organic flowing rhymes of fellow label mate and wonder-kid up-and-comer Lyrics Born on the smooth “Give it to You.”

In the past, people have tended to label Blackalicious as "alt-rap" among a long list of other pigeonholes. But the truth is that Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel are just two guys who happen to be doing their thing, and they do it exceptionally well.

[Published on: 9/15/05]

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