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by Steve Juon
1 January, 1999@12:00 am
0 comments

Is Gift of Gab the schizophrenic tenant number one? One thing is for sure: on the Blackalicious A2G EP, he’s definitely housing & arousing the intellect with introspect.

This is the kind of release in only seven short songs that most rap soloists and crews wish they could come up with in bulky blathering thirty cut double discs of mindless drivel. Sometimes, shorter is better – especially when you can pack this much flavor into this condensed of a space. Proving that point aptly is the title cut “A to G” where Gab proves his ability to alliterate aptly; then flips it at the album’s end with “Alphabet Aerobics (The Cut Chemist 2 & 1/2 Minute Workout)”, which forces Gab to up-tempo his flow everytime the beat is picked up – except this time he goes all the way from A to Z. Zounds!

Gab isn’t one of those one-dimensional rappers that’s just out to prove how clever he is with his tongue. “Deception” is an examination of how the fast road to success can be a quick road to downfall, and “Making Progress” is a heartfelt dedication to all his people struggling to make a better life for themselves. Gab has an extrordinary ability to sound matter of fact – never preachy or didactic – so you won’t mind when he says, “Can’t achieve a a garden if you never water your crops/If you never paid your dues, then you don’t get props.” Gab never aims any barbs at others that he wouldn’t aim at himself so this comes across as much as a self-reminder as advice.

A fan of hip-hop for advanced listening would be hard-pressed not to enjoy this musical menagerie. Chief Xcel’s sonic production deftly compliments Gab’s liquid smooth voice and provides the appropriate sound backdrop for whatever topic is addressed. Of this release one can only be left mouth-watering for the fuller length Nia from which these jewels of excellence were culled. Picking up this and the previous Melodica EP would both be a very good decision.

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