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Blazing Arrow

Blackalicious

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Album Review

The late '90s ushered in a second golden age of progressive hip-hop, as a group of ambitious young lions rose from the underground to redefine the art of lyrical technique and revive the idea that hip-hop had relevant statements to make. With their 2000 debut album, Blackalicious established themselves as one of the West Coast's top outfits in this vein, and while it was very good, their follow-up, Blazing Arrow, is simply fantastic, vaulting the duo to the forefront of the progressive hip-hop pack. Much of Blazing Arrow retains NIA's airy, laconic feel, but the group's sense of craft has improved to a startling degree; the hooks are sharper and more plentiful, Gift of Gab's rhymes are denser, Chief Xcel's production is more breathtakingly lush, and his arrangements more sophisticated. What's more, the tracks draw from a rich sonic palette — not just the expected jazz-funk and old-school influences, but straight pop (check the Nilsson sample on the title track) and smooth soul (particularly the Philly variety, but also the contemporary neo-soul revival) in particular. In spite of the duo's intellectual bent, the grooves on Blazing Arrow exude a tremendous warmth that's only complemented by the positivity of their messages. And if Gift of Gab wasn't recognized among hip-hop's premier lyricists before, he certainly ought to be now; his raps are jam-packed with internal rhymes, allusions, metaphors, ten-cent words, and amazing tongue-twisting feats of skill. Guests include members of Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, and Latyrx (all worthy company), not to mention singer/songwriter Ben Harper, Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine), and the legendary Gil Scott-Heron. All the pieces add up to not just one of the best rap albums of 2002, but one of the richest, most captivating albums to emerge from hip-hop's artsy new underground.

Customer Reviews

Revolutionary, Simply Stated.

Blazing Arrow is, on my list, one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. I strongly reccomend this album to all those who can appreciate hip-hop at all. The whole thing has an epic and complete feel to it, and it's hard to listen to an individual song without listening to the whole album. It has an amizingly strong start, with "Blazing Arrow" and "Sky is Falling" being two amazing, if not completley revolutionary, exhibits of Gift of Gab's lyricism and Cheif Xcels exceptional producing. Some other highlights from the album: Nowhere Fast, at 6:41 in length, never gets old. It's probably my favorite track on the album. It has an amazing beat, In fact it's so amazing it gives me shivers whenever i listen to it. And Gifts message is so positive and uplifting...Something rarely seen among hip-hop music. Moving on... "Halfway Home", the second part of "Paragraph President", is probably the coolest beat I have ever heard in my life, and if I'm not mistaken, Blackalicious had a little help from DJ Shadow himself on that one. "Make you feel that way" is one of those songs that can put a smile on my face every time i hear it. It's probably some of the chillest stuff on the album, and it just makes you feel good. "Chemical Calisthenics" is an eccentric experiment, might be difficult to nod your head to, but it's certaintly an interesting and extremely daring track. "Release" is purely amazing, and with three parts and a time of 9:26, it's an epic listen. Part three is great, with a guest spot by Lyrics Born, but part two is purely amazing, guest starring Saul Williams, the Poet/MC/Actor. Though those are all examples of great tracks, there does seem to be a bit of a weak spot towards the end. Tracks 13-15, though still good, don't really seem to be up to par with the rest of the album. though they are good on their own, they sorta stick out among these other revolutionary tracks. Overall, Blazing Arrow Is an exceptional album, showcasing in an incredible way both Gift of Gab's superb lyrical prowess and Chief Xcels Awe-Inspiring Producing. If you consider yourself a Hip-Hop connisuer or merely a casual listener, you MUST own this album. it will change your life.

Hip Hop perfection

One of the best hip hop albums I've heard since Jurassic 5's "Quality Control", Blackalicious are golden on every track on the album. Their lyrics are thoughtful and intellagent, making for a great change of pace for those of us who have grown tired of what is in the airwaves nowadays. Their follow-up "The Craft" is a great record as well, but this is Blackalicious' best album to date. Make sure to check out "Paragraph President", "Chemical Calisthenics", "Sky is Falling", and "Make You Feel that Way" for hip hop nirvana.

REAL Hip Hop!

In a word, this disc is brilliant! Free of oversampling and ridiculous "bling-bling" cliches, 'Blazing Arrow' is a true gem in a genre that is polluted with crap. In my opinion, this is one of the most exciting rap discs since the glory days of Public Enemy or 'Amerikkka' era Ice Cube.

Biography

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 has generally favored what hip-hoppers call the "positive tip"; in other words, its lyrics have often been spiritual and uplifting rather than violent or misogynous. 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 wasn't formed until the early '90s, its members had known each other...
Full Bio