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Up Close and Personal

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Album Review

It doesn't hurt to have friends like Wyclef Jean, Snoop Dogg, and Mary J. Blige. But Angie Martinez stands her ground when rapping alongside mega-rap stars like these on her debut album, Up Close and Personal (Elektra Records). The Hot 97 FM DJ is no stranger to the scene; she's been fraternizing with hip-hop and rap stars and establishing friendships with many of them, including the artists that appear on the album. Martinez shines on tracks like "Gutter to tha Fancy Ish," on which she flaunts her quick-tongued rap technique and a tough-girl attitude while alternating verses with none other than Busta Rhymes. Speaking about hangin' with her girls, Martinez lays the truth down on the line when she says, "Underestimate me is to not know me/analyze every situation/and I rise to any occasion." On the funky, bass-driven track "New York, New York," Martinez raps with Prodigy and DJ Clue. The album features mostly heavy, bass-driven rap tracks, but Martinez's playfulness trickles in through a pair of brief interludes — recordings of phone conversations with her rapper pals. Martinez then slips smoothly into hip-hop mode with the laid-back track "No Playaz," which showcases Martinez's singing ability and some backup verse from rappers Lil' Mo and Sunshine. "Live at Jimmy's" is by far the most energetic and fun song on the album. Mary J. Blige and La India come on board for the rap track "Breathe," which could double as a pop tune with its breathy chorus and melodic beats. And Martinez proves that she's no lightweight on the fast-paced, aggressive track "Go!" On her first time around, Martinez has delivered a well-rounded album that features solid raps, Latin grooves, and a few lighter, melodic tunes. In between rapping with some of rap and hip-hop's heaviest hitters, Martinez slips in a mention of HBO's Sex and the City on one of the songs. Now, there's a girl you gotta respect. ~ Kerry L. Smith, Rovi


Born: 09 January 1980 in The Bronx, New York, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Part of the New York City hip-hop scene, Angie Martinez got her start working in radio. Raised in Brooklyn, Martinez was first introduced to music via her mother's diverse musical tastes (who was a program director for a jazz radio station). Eventually Martinez discovered hip-hop, and after a short stint at a Miami radio station working the phones, she moved back to N.Y.C. and began working at the popular dance station Hot 97. Rapper KRS-One encouraged Martinez to give hip-hop a shot herself, impressed...
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Up Close and Personal, Angie Martinez
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