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Natural Shine

Sensational

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Album Review

New York rapper Sensational is back with his fifth solo album, and this time he's sharing the production and engineering duties with such underground luminaries as the Ill Saint and Kouhei and, on one track, the rapping duties with a crew that includes Ed, Kev Hutch, and Black Chameleon. But most of the album consists of Sensational himself delivering his trademark self-aggrandizing rhymes in a muted, growly voice over some of Wordsound's trademark dark and viscous grooves. There's no questioning the quality of his flow, but Sensational does need to expand his subject matter just a bit beyond declarations of his own prowess and magnetism; even by hip-hop standards, Sensational is a real lyrical one-trick pony. But if you let the rhymes themselves pass by like just one more element in the mix, this material gets across just fine. "Stock Market Connection" works off of a clean, minimalist groove that swings enticingly beneath Sensational's chest-pounding rhymes, and "Hand This Way" features an impressively complex rhythmic interchange between his voice and the accompanying dark, brooding rhythm. There's some fun human beatbox stuff on the aptly titled "Beatbox." The best track is the group affair mentioned above, titled "Cipher" and featuring some of the most incisive raps on the album. It's not without flaws, but Natural Shine is a highly worthwhile effort from one of Brooklyn's strangest talents.

Biography

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Also known as Torture, Sensational was a member of the Jungle Brothers on their album 1993 J. Beez Wit Da Remedy. He released his self-produced solo debut, Loaded With Power, in 1997. The follow-up, Corner the Market, appeared the next year and...
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Natural Shine, Sensational
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