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Universally Dirty

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Album Review

It's hardly the fault of music's most innovative groups if their competition catches up with them eventually, although failing to release a proper full-length in four years can make it all but inevitable. Between 2002's Understanding and 2006's Universally Dirty, New Flesh (presumably) watched as British rap fractured into bashment and grime and garage rap and dubstep, first rising in power (with Dizzee Rascal's critical importance), then waning, then rising again (with Lady Sovereign on Def Jam). Meanwhile, in America, the same type of skeleton-stark '80s programming that New Flesh was all about became the standard for hits and radio airplay. (Even the Big Dada press release has to admit that for this record, they're "more timely than ahead of their time.") All this makes a fresh New Flesh record less than the event it usually is, and the trio doesn't make it any easier on itself; Toastie Tailor's "Home Movie" is a sexual romp like a parade of others, and Part 2's productions don't reveal as much expertise as in the past. Still, Juice Aleem remains one of the best rappers in the business, and Universally Dirty won't make any newbies wonder what the fuss is all about.


Formed: 1990

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s

Around since 1990, New Flesh took ten years to release an LP but quickly became dons of the British rap scene, as original and cutting-edge as their much-hyped Big Dada labelmate Roots Manuva. When originally formed (as New Flesh for Old), the group included York native and graffiti sprayer Part 2 (aka Keith Hopewell) along with rappers Toastie Tailor (a native of Grenada), Horny Baker, and Out of Order. They did a few shows during the early '90s, and debuted with a 1995 single ("This Is the Space...
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