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Agua pa' la gente

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Album Review

"Yo Dre, I don't mean to annoy ya/But you ain't no doctor, and I'm a lawyer/And I'll destroy ya" — strong words from a gang of Latino-Jewish smartypants from Brooklyn, but they serve their purpose. On Agua Pa' la Gente, the Hoodios' first full-length, listeners bounce across a tightly stretched canvas of klezmer, hip-hop, and salsa splattered by some of the vividest, smartest rhymes to stud a rap disc since Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill. How seriously to take this bilingual release is anybody's guess. Musically, its guest collaborators, including a Klezmatics player and alterna-Latin heroes from Santana, Jaguares, and Los Abandoned, elevate it to a level way beyond spoof; Karl Perazzo's congas kick on the title track and Paul Shapiro's clarinet keeps "K#k* on the Mic" this side of kosher. Song themes split the difference between offensive ("Dicks & Noses") and academic ("1492" explores how the Spanish Inquisition resulted in millions of Latinos unknowingly having Jewish roots), but what's kept consistent is the brilliant, self-skewering wit: "My sound is fresh, like a pound of flesh/My nose is large, and you know I'm in charge." Illustrating this illest of Latino-Jewish offerings is still more evidence of the Hoodios' refusal to let ethnic hangups lie: snaps of "Hoodia honeys" in bagel bras, as well as a restaurant advertising kosher burritos, skirt the lyrics.

Agua pa' la gente, Hip Hop Hoodios
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