Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Hard as Hell [Profile, 1988]
Though "rap's next generation" is really only nine U.K. acts with the same packager, this is noteworthy in its less than epochal way. Strange to hear black Brits talking South Bronx the way white Brits aped Memphis drawls 25 years ago. Accentwise they've got an edge, too. But musically, not to mention conceptually, they don't. Svengali Simon Harris has a knack rather than a gift for the dissociated steals and electrobeats of contemporary hip hop, and when Einstein observes that British DJs "ain't got enough talent to rock no jam," he ain't just pumping his man C. J. Mackintosh. Nevertheless, the energy is what they call fresh--the sense of unbounded possibility that makes the early phase of any pop movement such an up hasn't dissipated into calculation. Check out Nomis Sirrah's mastermix, Asher D and Daddy Freddy's skank, and Lady Sugar Sweet's tough-ass dis, and wonder what else is cooking over there. B