Ah, finally, a Blackalicious full-length - so worth the wait.... The same conscious clever lyrics and catchy beats as before, but this record is a lot more of a coherent whole than any of their previous releases. Modern hiphop poured through a Marvin Gaye "What's Goin On" filter - 70's touches to a lot of the beats, and a strong message of black unity, pride, and purpose (which is what "nia" means in Swahili). Many of the tracks are connected by interlude snippets which use historical samples (speeches, etc.) Practically an autobiographical sociology thesis on CD, but way more fun to listen to. A few things you'll probably recognize - a handful of tracks (4, 5, 17) from the A2G EP, and guest appearances by Lyrics Born (3) and Lateef (10, 13, 19) of Latyrx, DJ Shadow (6, 10), and Erinn Anova (1, 8, 10, 14, 19). This record is so incredible, it's a little silly to make picks.... Play the whole thing beginning to end. Serious.|
1. intro - spoken word, M/F voices
> 2. boasting track ("here come the fabulous ones") that's actually something to boast about itself - tumbling rhymes and pop funk beats
> 3. great combo of Lyrics Born's opaque side-of-mouth rhymes and Gab's tongue twisters
> 4. the hit single with that la-de-da hook - you know you love it! This version has an extra bit at the end to connect it to the next track....
> 5. the alphabet song - the rhymes are all tricky, it super rules, check out the whole alphabet on A2G....
6. spacy Shadow beats and a murmured kung fu comic book fantasy story. Another connecting interlude at the end - lazy beats and an excerpt of a speech (Malcolm X I think)
> 7. languid summer heatshimmer beats and an awesome rhyme about why Blackalicious don't do gangsta
> 8. great Nikki Giovanni spoken word
> 9. mumbly raggamuffin-style vox and percussion-heavy beats - oh yo yo yo yo yo....
10. guitar, sweet female vocals on the chorus, guests Lateef and DJ Shadow
11. bassy beats w/spacy (Spaceheadsy) trumpet toward the end, low rhymes, one of those connecting interludes...
12. sly bass and a funny little vocal sample, aggressive rhymes
> 13. the perfect hip-slinky bass and snake charmer jazz trumpet and singy Lateef-Gab tandem vocals - this makes me dance around my room like a fool
14. smooth female singing and synth-soul kinda beats - electric piano/vocal sample interlude at the end
> 15. scratching, horn hook, tongue twisting rhymes - a bit of a Blackalicious theme song. It's the Gift, uh-huh....
16. magician hypnotist vocals and sleeeepy flute hook - interlude at the end
> 17. skeletonized woonky 70's pop beat and black pride lyrics
> 18. sweet hiphop lullaby with drifty beats and piano - reminds me a bit of Latyrx's Balcony Beach
19. outro - again, spoken word, Gab and Erinn Anova