Most Likely to Succeed

Excuse me, may I have this dance with your eardrums? Luckyiam queries at the beginning of "Classy Joint," the clever, mock-vintage lounge number that serves as a fulcrum for his debut solo effort. It's an invitation you won't want to pass up. Having spent more than ten years as a sideman or rapper for hire, the Oakland-born emcee finally consolidated his career — proving to everyone in underground hip-hop that yes, after all this time, he does have a personality, and he does have shit to say. A beautiful thing, indeed — not only because it means the guy finally warrants his own Wikipedia entry, but because he actually sounds better by himself (who'd have thought?). Padded with soft, melodic beats — all gentle drum fills and bursts of piano — which defy the often mischievous and sometimes outlandish character of the rhymes, Most Likely surpasses Luckyiam's 2004 collaboration with the Grouch and his previous recordings as half of the underground duo Mystik Journeymen. To be fair, it occasionally delves into familiar territory: the melodramatic lost-little-girl track "Memory Loss" is a spin-off of Ludacris' "Runaway Love" or any number of maudlin scenarios developed by Tupac Shakur, and the love ballad "The Best I Can" borrows from Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It," which sounds too predictable as source material. But Most Likely still has shock value, especially with the addition of ultranasty gigolo turned emcee Mickey Avalon. On the album's best number, "Nevermind," Avalon quips, It's lonely at the top/If only I could find a thick bitch who didn't talk. A much coarser lyric than you'll ever hear on a Legends album, but there's something irresistible about his lazy drawl and cavalier attitude. Misogyny seldom sounds this good.


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