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Pete Rock, Soul Survivor 2 (Rapster/Studio !K7)
Pete Rock is like the East Coast's Dr. Dre. Sure, he's nowhere near as huge as Dre, but his tight, organic compositions supplied the club banger template for nearly a decade, and pretty much defined the '90s New York sound. Soul Survivor 2, Pete Rock's follow up to '99's Soul Survivor (he also released Petestrumentals in 2001), is, as usual, a record chalk full of single-ready chart busters that picks up exactly where DJ Premier (of Gangstarr) and the first Soul Survivor disc left off. Mid-tempo rhythms, catchy, jazzed-out melodies, and funk-driven grooves are overlaid with rhymes from a host of MCs -- from Pharoah Monch to Dead Prez and Slum Village. While it's solid, it hardly diverges from the blueprint Rock's been pushing for years. "Warzone", an industrial-sounding cut with Dead Prez, and "Love Thing" with C.L. Smooth are the record's only real departures. But what else could you ask for? The guy used to be a radio DJ, for Chrissakes! And while he might be a one trick pony, his sound has held up for the better part of almost two decades.
Bobby Rush, Live at Ground Zero (Deep Rush Visuals)
Bobby Rush is an electric performer and his CD/DVD collection Live at Ground Zero offers ample evidence. The 13 songs captured here -- recorded live at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Miss. -- are funky examples of an urban blues that borrows from the Chicago sound of Chess records and the Memphis soul of the Stax-Volt musicians. The lead guitar on "Evil", a tightly controlled solo by Stephen Johnson, and the song's shuffling rhythm section (Bruce Howard on drums and Terry Richardson on bass) underscore Rush's gravelly vocal, a fairly typical blues lament about mistrust and deceit. As a lyricist, Rush is rather pedestrian (he wrote all 13 songs), crafting the kind of songs that have become cliché among blues and soul performers -- except when he employs some downright bawdy puns and sexual come-ons, which allow his music to morph into broad humor, lending it a tongue-in-cheek quality that makes it seem more than it is. Ultimately, the disc depends on Rush's delivery, a mix of sly innuendo and up-front bravura that pushes his rather thin lyrics to their limits. Without his nods and winks, the dirty jokes that make up this live disc would probably fall pretty flat.
Get Fucked, Get Fucked (Level Plane)
With a name like Get Fucked, you certainly aren't looking to make friends. Featuring members of metal masterminds LickGoldenSky as well as members of Turmoil and Neil Perry, Get Fucked could really care less about what you think about them. With nine tracks, running at 17 minutes, Get Fucked offers up a nasty dose of hardcore thrash that, while not particularly groundbreaking, stays in the memory due to the sheer ferocity of the delivery. Opening track (and the best song on the album), "Inside the 8lb. Dorm Fire", immediately grabs the listener with its guitar-heavy production and wins you over with the stunning third act, which finds the tune turning on a dime into an unbelievable breakdown section. The rest of album doesn't quite live up to the promise of the opening track, but the curious production, which finds the vocals battling for attention under the thick layer of guitars, as well the downright ugliness of the recording, will keep fans of Discordance Axis, the Locust, and Daughters rapt with attention.