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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Gift of Gab

Escape 2 Mars

Review by Gary Hill

This is a solo album from Gift of Gab of the group Blackalicious. I like this disc quite a bit, but it’s not as strong as that group. Still, it has its moments, there’s no question about that. I’d highly recommend it to all fans of hip hop – and to those looking for a gateway drug to get into the genre. I would also mention that, like a lot of the genre, there is some material here that might not be appropriate to play around kids.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
Track by Track Review
Escape 2 Mars Intro
Old school jazz and soul merge on the opening of this. As the vocals enter, this feels like a psychedelic pop number. The rap comes in over the top that backdrop. We're brought back to the psychedelia based chorus after that rap. It gets back into the jazzy territory to make its way to the end.
El Gifto Magnifico
Jungle rhythms with a modern element opens this. It holds it for a while until the rap joins. This is a decidedly rhythmic piece. There’s more melody infused late and it ends with a little bit of space.
Light Years
More rocking and with a much more prominent melody line, I like this cut a lot. It’s one of the standouts of the set. The guitar sound is quite tasty.
Dreamin (featuring Del The Funky Homosapien & Brother Ali)
I love the rap on this one. It’s a powerhouse. Sure the music is cool, too, but really the rap steals the show here. There is some cool old school R & B music later, too, though. The closing music section is quite powerful, too. This ends with a short little “over the phone” dialog.
In Las Vegas
A cool electronic styled background and tasty female vocals serve as the backdrop for an old school styled rap.
Escape 2 Mars
Here we get another tasty rap. This has a more modern musical texture, but there are some retro things here, too. The lyrics talk about moving to Mars because of global climate disasters.
Electric Waterfalls
There’s a killer chorus here, but the verse is more dark and distorted. It’s an intriguing contrast. This is a cool, modern sounding number.
Rich Man Poor Man
There’s some killer music – both rhythmic and melodic – and almost prog rock in nature – as the main backing for the rap on this. There are also some killer vocal arrangements and some great jazzy jamming. All in all this is another highlight of the set.
Some of the People
A smooth R & B styled groove makes up the jam here. This is a tasty track. It’s not all that unique, but it’s quite a strong piece nonetheless.
Spotlight
Keyboards open this and carry it in fine fashion. It reminds me a little of Parliament. There is a warped sounding vocal arrangement on this and then the rap enters. It’s another tasty cut, but probably not a real standout. That’s mostly because everything here is strong. Of course, this one comes with a parental advisory.
Rhyme Travel
The rap is the main core of this cut. There’s some rhythmic and melodic music woven into this, but more as an afterthought almost. This is a good track, but one of the weaker ones on the set, and perhaps not the best choice as a closer.
 
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