The Procussions 

... as Iron Sharpens Iron

I seem to never tire of gushing about gangsta rap, much to the bafflement -- and annoyance -- of my friends. Why a self-proclaimed feminist would prefer dickslingers over do-gooders completely eludes me; I can only say I like gangsta rap's pastiche of Italian mafia and blaxploitation personae, or maybe I'm just intrigued by the taboo nature of the lyrics.

All this helps explain my position vis-à-vis LA's infectious up-and-coming hip-hop group the Procussions. Their new album, ... as Iron Sharpens Iron, is more peppy than the glacial West Coast style to which we've been habituated, but it's also technically robust. Production-wise, the piano-ribboned brass-band-style "All That It Takes" takes the cake, but don't overlook "Just Over Broke," a track with scratches so precise it sounds like someone is whittling over the beat. In fact, this is the kind of album you'd lend to a friend who wanted to be indoctrinated into hip-hop: easy on the ear and pretty safe overall.

But for this girl who, at thirteen, went straight from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Ice Cube, the rhymes ain't really cutting it. See, the Procussions are adorable -- in pictures, they look like the kind of guys you swooned over in high school. And with songs about how "Every rhyme is a lesson/I'm blessed, so why not be in blessin'?" they seem like all-around nice guys. But are we ready to sing a happy "Kumbaya" with the rappers on our stereos? Iron will help you fall asleep at night, but part of you might keep waiting for the joint about shooting someone in the face, and be disappointed when said joint never surfaces. But it probably doesn't really matter, because it would take more than a gangsta rap evangelist to diminish this group's fervor. The Procussions have the feel-good audience on lock, and we haven't heard the last of 'em.

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