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Hip-Hop Meditations

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Album Review

Can't blame you if you're scared that Carlos Mena's relax-o-chilled hip-hop for the soul could be cheese on a cracker, but the guy is deep and legit. Rather than taking the academic and standoffish route with his heady hip-hop, Mena asks "what's your trepidation with digging this flow?" Well, a foul mood could be one thing since this a positive and patchouli record, P.M. Dawn for a less precious age (promos were sent out with incense sticks and bath salts, if you can dig it). Listen to the playful "God Is You" and you know this thinker has soul and flow. "Walking in the Light" cuts up the funk into a jittery beat, "Nine Haikus" is Gil Scott-Heron having a good time, and "Buscando Luz" is a rich combination of Mena's Puerto Rico then Brooklyn upbringing. There's plenty of poetry instead of rapping, but only on "Sheets of Sound" does Mena sound forced. Otherwise he's a stream-of-consciousness wordsmith, painting vivid pictures with his verse. It's approachable, and the Kurtis Blow and Beatnuts records that appear in the artwork show he's no professor that thought hip-hop was a good way to reach the kids. Someone should send Mena a copy of Al Green's version of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" since comparing the Bee Gees to junk food is a glib moment that weakens the otherwise stinging "Red, White and Blue." It's one of the few signs of impact over insight in Mena's writing with much of the lyrics being on point. Few pop albums with this many Tibetan bells and meditations have been this meaty and groovy. If Prince hears it he'll grab Mena for his posse. Hope not since Hip-Hop Meditations is very good with Mena working hard on a revolution of his own.

Hip-Hop Meditations, Carlos Mena
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