Slum Village 

Slum Village

There's something smoother -- and cleaner -- about Slum Village's latest album. Gone is most of the explicit sexual metaphor that straddled hip-hop's age-old line between brilliant lyricism and degrading misogyny, making this a welcome change for listeners who cringed at prior comparisons between tight rhymes and female genitalia. No, this one is for an older and apparently wiser audience, no longer so enamored with booty. It's also an independent release, despite the commercial success 2004's Detroit Deli enjoyed. But though extraordinarily talented producer Jay Dee is long gone, the soul-inflected beats don't suffer, and the lyrics (of the more conscious love/life/struggle variety) keep pace as well. Slum's mainstream moment might be over, but the future's bright nonetheless.

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