Power Movement

It's a cardinal sin to compare underground gangsta rap artists to their counterparts in conscious hip-hop, but whatev: Hieroglyphics member Tajai's triumphal Power Movement has more than a couple things in common -- spiritually, at least -- with Louie Loc's Power Moves. Okay, so there's a certain bluntness and honesty in Loc's "Bullshit Is Nothing" that's noticeably absent from the title track of Tajai's album, which is about all things celestial (Burn the unlearned as I sojourn/To terrain inflamed it's burning) and nothing in particular. But on a happier note, both albums have a quality that's scarcer than you might think in underground hip-hop: The beats are sensibly -- in fact, gorgeously -- matched with the rappers' vocals.

The tracks on Power Movement have a sense of flair and ingenuity, serving as hip-hop's answer to classical music's concept of "musicianship." Obviously, listening to producer Domino's cinematic synths and digital yarfs on "Raindance" isn't the same as listening to a violinist who spent his whole life practicing rip it on a Dvorák concerto, but that's not the point. Maybe we have a different critical vocabulary for hip-hop, but we're still looking for the same moment of excitement, when everything comes together and it's worth saying that the beats on this album are beautiful.

Gorgeousness and gorgeosity are consistent on Power Movement. Part of that lies in the music of Tajai's voice, if not his lyrics -- you get the sense that he's afraid to speak what's really on his mind, because then maybe the album wouldn't be as interesting. But when your production is tight, you' re helping run a successful label (Hiero), and you're not really disenfranchised anymore, what's left to talk about? Maybe modernity, bragging rights, and, intermittently, a big beautiful booty girl. Or maybe nothing. Awright then, let the beauty and the fullness of the boombap compensate.


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