Okay, tell me everything you know about Sacramento, California. True, it’s the Golden State’s capital. And yes, their basketball-playing Kings do their thing on the court. But what about the city’s hip hop culture? They do have one, ya know? And Blackalicious, made up of MC Gift of Gab and DJ Chief Xcel, are leading the city out of Obscurityville.
Ten years strong in the game, Blackalicious, who sound like a mix between early De La Soul and Black Eyed Pea, know about longevity. And while none of their past efforts shook things up commercially, their stuff (namely the purpose-filled ‘Nia‘) generally worked artistically. The eclectic ‘Blazing Arrows‘, the duo’s first major label release, continues to play with funky basslines (“4000 Miles“, with Jurassic 5, and the Jaguar Wright-aided “Aural Pleasure“) and jazzy backdrops (“Nowhere Fast,” featuring the Roots’ ?uestlove, and the Hi-Tek-produced “It’s Going Down“). And for the most part, their fun, creative style works for heads in Burbank and Brooklyn. You’ll bob your head when you hear the hot, energetic beats. You’ll use your head when you hear the thought-provoking rhymes.
But unfortunately, when Arrows shoots for Native Tongue-like nostalgia (the shabby “Sky is Falling“) you’ll scratch your head, wondering how such tracks made the final cut. Only then does the album falter. Everywhere else, Sacramento, bump that, hip hop is done proud.