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by
1 January, 2001@12:00 am
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Artistically, not much has changed for LMNO since his seminal appearance on Key Kool & DJ Rhettmatic’s “E=MC5″ (the super posse cut featuring the long since disbanded Western Hemisphere). The hungry emcee stood out far from the ironbound spit of Voodu!, Ras Kass and Meen Green. Six years past, he still sits in much of a category all his own, both vocally and conceptually. An atypical voice and delivery oft devoid of conventional cadence have made LMNO who he is, that and his expressive religious devotion to Christianity; elements of style that have turned off some heads perhaps unwilling to compromise their own beliefs and tastes to “hear” what he’s saying. Yet, LMNO has persevered, gathering a hefty collection of works with groups The Visionaries and Blak Forest as well a determined solo mission. That pursuit makes for a distinct charm within his music, one based with integrity, something many have lost and will continue to in this here world of rap music.

Leave My Name Out plays much differently than previous Battle Axe releases, it doesn’t bang like a Swollen Members album nor swoon like Moka Only – yet rather (unsurprisingly) cultivates a character all its own. While there aren’t much for radio or clubs to pick up on, Leave My Name Out is a worthy bumper nonetheless. There is a texture to it, a personality. LMNO didn’t waste his breath anywhere. Yet for what audience will he be received? Tracks like the Evidence driven a “Grin & Bear It” or “Packed Event” will energize the b-boy in all of us, but who will remain standing when he screams of atonement for “temples, churches, synagogues, the whole world has sinned against God!” on the fire and brimstone blazer “Wise Dumb (Wisdom)”. “Natural Beauty”; subtle, simmering in a savory Key Kool beat, pairs LMNO with an ideal lover, both emotionally and spiritually (“wake up call, have a nice day, by the way did you pray?”). This isn’t new hat for L, but it might be for new listeners.

Fans will be fulfilled, those familiar with his catalog might ultimately be converted, new jacks should listen with objective ears and enjoy the freedom of an artist not afraid to speak with his heart, mind and ego.

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