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Radio Free Brooklyn

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Album Review

For someone who grew up in Portland, OR, Pete Miser certainly brings a strong East Coast vibe to Radio Free Brooklyn. The rapper/producer/DJ now lives in New York (Brooklyn to be exact), and this solo effort is right out of the East Coast school of alternative rap. The obvious comparisons include Gang Starr, the Roots, Digable Planets, and the Jungle Brothers; Miser isn't as eccentric and quirky as De La Soul, the Pharcyde (an L.A. group with an East Coast sound), or A Tribe Called Quest, but he does share their appreciation of jazz-influenced grooves and their knack for positive, uplifting lyrics. No one will accuse Radio Free Brooklyn of being among hip-hop's more confrontational and hostile releases; Miser steers clear of thug-life imagery, and he isn't afraid to offer some lucid, intelligent observations when it comes to social and political issues. The MC, who is part Asian, discusses racism on "Ho-Made" and questions materialism on "Got That"; the sobering title track is about nuclear war, while the poignant "Might Be" reflects on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Quite possibly, Radio Free Brooklyn will be exalted as a shining example of hip-hop intelligence — a substantial, thought-provoking alternative to all the gangsta rap clichés and predictable odes to "bitches," "hoes," gats, blunts, and bling-bling that have flooded the market. And it isn't hard to imagine this CD receiving a lot of favorable reviews in the hip-hop press. But what critics like and what the public actually buys can be two entirely different things — Common has long been a critics' favorite, but he hasn't sold nearly as many albums as Snoop Dogg. At any rate, Radio Free Brooklyn is an excellent release that alterna-rap enthusiasts should make a point of hearing.


Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Although Pete Miser isn't a huge name in the hip-hop world, the Asian-American rapper has received his share of favorable reviews and enjoys a small cult following. The MC favors a jazz-influenced style of alternative rap; De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, the Roots, Digable Planets, and the Jungle Brothers are the sort of East Coast artists he is usually compared to. Miser isn't one of the more eccentric alternative rappers, but his unthreatening image, intellectual lyrics, and fondness...
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