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by Peter Agoston
3 November, 2002@12:00 am
0 comments

In an unexpected and seemingly unpromoted return to the full length fold, Mike G. and Afrika (Baby Bam) return to the flock with a fun knock that lands somewhere between their rap-religiously fabled Done By The Forces Of Nature and their somewhat embarrassing V.I.P. (with Propellerheads’ Alex Gifford on the boards). While it’s probably more of the latter, it’s honesty in electro-light-heartedness makes up for the fact that they went on tour opening up for The Back Street Boys.

The J.B.’s impact overseas held down notoriety that faded in the States soon
after their under appreciated fourth album, (Gee Street Records), dropped and
subsequently flip flopped. For many a fan, the love was lost even as soon as their
third, the strange made it’s rounds. But as so many otherwise considered “fallen off” American artists have found, no matter what, outside of the overtly saturated domestic market, they’ll always have some more love abroad. Which might of lead to silly dance-pop records that began to define the JB’s sound of late and even much of these 11 cuts. Slices like “Candy” (“you make me say ohh, you look good enough to eat” crooned hooks) and “Let’s Get Away” play out like the soundtrack to a midlife crisis getaway that even the house-giant tagged executive producer credits of Todd Terry couldn’t save from actual Jungle Brothers’ fans hating on.

Yet with the bad comes the wonderful and there are defining moments of unadulterated J.B. flare that spark in the likes of the title track, “All That We Do” and “Do You Thing”. Both simply smashingly live contributions both vocally and behind the boards, alive with thriving instrumentation (electrified) and while not conceptually much different than the rest of the album (simple braggadocio and open ended dance-alignments) the presence of Afrika and Mike G. rebirth themselves in front of the most questioning of older fans. The ominous “Love & Hate” isn’t much of a story but its lush neo-afro JB’isms bring the needle back for a visit a few more times.

Outside of a hand full of harmonizing singers, is collabo-less, which feels like a good move here. The Jungle Brothers claim this album as testament of “the best that we can do”, and given their track record, their history and overall influence on so many of hip-hop’s pioneering next schoolers (ala De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, The Beatnuts (whose name was given to them by the JB’s), and so many others) this effort isn’t so off the mark. They haven’t forgotten their past (“Let Me” flips an intro of the classical “I Gotta Like That”) and make a darn alright step for the present.

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