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Blackalicious Imani vol. 1 OGM Recordings • 2015

‘It’s been ten years so we’ll spoil them.’, Gift Of Gab and Chief Xcel must’ve thought. A decade since their last album ‘The Craft’, L.A. duo Blackalicious drops the first part of a trilogy. Not one, not two, but three albums. The first chapter ‘Imani vol. 1’ sets the mood: organic hip-hop, rich of instruments, chock full of soul, funk and roots influences.

Their comeback was planned to release three years ago. But Gab’s kidney failure decided otherwise. The tongue acrobat’s health problems seemed an extra reason to spoil the fans with gratitude. Once again, but more than on their other albums, positivism rules the sound waves. ‘The Sun’ and ‘We Did It Again’ will make your day. ‘That Night’ parties harder than any other Blackalicious track.

Truth be told: not a lot of water passed under the bridge since their first record ‘N.I.A.’ from 1999. The array of layers throughout Xcel’s production, the way that Gift Of Gab weaves his words around the kicks and snares, remain. But that doesn’t mean they’ve not progressed since the previous century –sharper sound, advanced mixing. It only shows how progressive their music sounded like already in that era.

Nowadays, lots of hip-hop music is determined by live instruments and arrangements. Blackalicious music already had that in the 90’s.

Uncrowned instigators of rap music, The Watts Poets, and Belgium’s afro-pop band Zap Mama contribute to a warm, authentic album, bathing in a live atmosphere.

‘Imani vol. 1’ doesn’t surprise. It has no new vibes, no new adventures, no new kinds of production. But that’s just fine. The first part of the saga sounds timeless. Despite another two albums in the pipeline, fans can already be satisfied.


POSTED ON 11|16|2015 by cpf

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