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Imani, Vol. 1

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Customer Reviews

real hip-hop

This is what real hip-hop sounds like!!! Just from the two songs on the pre-order,i know this is gonna be good. Blackalicious never disappoints.

Back to style the helped mold underground hip hop

Saw Blackalicious in concert last night in SF and they dropped about 5 new tracks off the new joint and they were on fire!

Blackalicious come through for fans with the long awaited 'Imani Vol. 1'

Ten years is a long time to wait for an album, but if you're a fan of Sacramento, CA born hip-hop duo Blackalicious (emcee Gift of Gab and producer/DJ Chief Xcel), then you know that the depth and extensiveness of each of their albums are enough to keep studious listeners entertained for just about that long. The positive, conscious, highly lyrical and craftily composed and produced twosome have returned to the album-scene again this year with their fourth LP, Imani Vol. 1, which was released today on OGM Recordings. Occasionally signed to Quannum Projects (Latyrx, DJ Shadow, and others) but forever a part of the collective, Blackalicious' last studio album, The Craft, was released in 2005, and that album followed both Nia (2000) and Blazing Arrow (2002), also excellent efforts by the pair, who at one time were artists with record giant MCA. Just as expected and luckily for the group and their followers (but really everyone), Imani Vol. 1 succeeds on more than a few levels, offering several great treats for any and all who lend their time and ears to it.

A celebration of the beauty of life, Imani Vol. 1 promised and has the two foremost assets of Blackalicious: Gift of Gab's complex and meaningful rap lyrics and Chief Xcel's expertly produced beats with samples seamlessly and cohesively cut in to avoid gaps or distraction. Everything is smooth but impactful also. Gab skillfully and magnificently lays down a lot of handy material - black history and black endurance, common sense and logic, time and learning, positivity and balance, and not once does he squelch the very lyrical, poetic and expressive fire in his belly. In a few cuts, he devotes more time to flesh out and develop his messages. For instance, in "Escape," he encourages the ghetto's disadvantaged to work to become better pillars of their communities collectively, in "Twist of Time" he shows mountains of appreciation for the blessings he has received throughout his and his group's history, and in "Love's Gonna Save The Day" he effectually emphasizes the power of family love.

All work and no play would have made this album suffer, but to the rescue are those joints thrown in just to cool off to. The energetic thumper "The Sun" with Imani Coppola does just this as does "That Night" about a night in the NOLA during Mardi Gras featuring Vursatyl and Jumbo of The Lifesavas. In a way, "Alpha and Omega" fits in this same category and features Lyrics Born and Lateef of Latyrx spitting some much needed viciousness to counter-affect the almost overwhelmingly nice warm-fuzzies on the album. For flavor, there is a bit of flash to the beats, but it sort of acts as an aside to the well rooted, hip-hop based productions by Chief Xcel, whose awesome beat crafting work gives Imani 1 good longevity. There are some beats here that really pop, but real fans will notice that they don't bend over to cheap pop-music tricks. Guests on the album besides those already mentioned include Amde of The Watts Prophets, Myron, Danielle Flax and Zap Mama. Imani Vol. 1 is supposedly the first in a three part series, but it might prove harder to top than the Blackalicious guys think.


Formed: 1992 in Davis, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

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

Like a few other West Coast rap acts, including the Pharcyde and Jurassic 5, Blackalicious have generally favored what hip-hoppers call the "positive tip"; in other words, their lyrics have often been spiritual and uplifting rather than violent or misogynistic. Like a lot of experimental alternative rappers, Blackalicious can be quirky and eccentric; nonetheless, spirituality is a big part of the group's music. Although Blackalicious weren't formed until the early '90s, their members had known each...
Full Bio
Imani, Vol. 1, Blackalicious
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