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17 November, 2004@12:00 am

     Don’t be fooled by the cover of this album: despite what the image of the chocolate syrup covered female may suggest, the Cool Man Association’s new long-runner All Over is hardly sexually-charged. What this striking image signifies is just how diverse the subject matter of the Grouch and Luckyiam is. As the Grouch says himself on “CMA2″, “Pleasing the people with a well-rounded sequel” is a large part of what CMA aims to accomplish on their sophomore album. Unlike the Living Legend crew’s somewhat lopsided effort, Creative Differences, All Over features a more unified sound that consistently delivers.

    Always forthright, CMA can recall childhood memories (“Windows”) without sounding soft and take on controversial social issues in America (“Fuel 2 The Fire”) without sounding cliche. They accomplish these feats by steering clear of generalizations and getting specific on whatever topic is at hand. On “The Immigrant”, for example, CMA gets creative as the Grouch raps about the sacrifices a Mexican immigrant makes to reach the U.S. only to be treated like a criminal upon arriving here; then Luckyiam tells the tale of an exploited Eastern European girl who comes to America for opportunity but winds up getting trapped in a sex ring. As sad as some of the material may be, CMA expertly reports what they see and hear, whether it’s in their own lives or in society.

     Of the few guest appearances here, two of the more notable ones take place during the Dr. Jeckyll and  Mr. Hyde pair of tracks, “Bad Side” and “Good Side”. On the bad, Slug passionately slings the chorus as CMA take a look in the mirror and criticize their own flaws; on the good their LL crew mate Murs reminds us all that good always beats evil as the Grouch and Luckyiam pat themselves on the back for all of their commendable attributes and accomplishments. In the often ego-driven rap game, it’s refreshing to hear grown men who can open the door into their lives without visible reservations.

     With its soulful production and brutally honest lyricism, All Over is the sum of two approachable hip-hoppers calling it like they see it and nothing less. But the momentum of CMA does slightly decelerate by the tail end of this album. While not wack, cuts like “Make It Mine” don’t quite hold the same weight as say “Windows” or “Fuel 2 The Fire”. Overall, though, the quality control is in effect. Among the Living Legends’ massive record catalog, the Cool Man Association’s All Over certainly sits near the top of the shelf. Fans of the Grouch, Luckyiam and the LL crew will not be disappointed.

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