Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lyricist Lounge Vol. 2 [Rawkus, 2000]
The first volume documented a fertile institution of zero political correctness and endless creativity, but because it's hard to catch live improvisation on the fly, it was longer on feel than on legible music. The follow-up takes off from 16 high-flying bars of 1993 Biggie, then proceeds to the studio to prove how much competitive freestyling has meant to New York hip-hop. Name producers and star collaborations abound, and informing them all is a mindset few official guardians of black pride would approve--not just that good art needn't forswear violence, but that in this community it can't. Even moralists Dead Prez and Talib Kweli praise their pistols, as weapons of political struggle and self-protection, and not always against the white man--they know Prodigy, Kool G Rap, and M.O.P. aren't so circumspect, know it because that's the life they're living and know it because all three soon say so. Mos Def sums things up by rhyming in the voice of that boyfriend Macy Gray committed murder for. The two of them make it sound like a blast. A-