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29 March, 2006@12:00 am

    For someone so angry, for a rapper so closely associated with long-time outspoken politicos, for an artist wound so tight he calls his friends “comrades,” M1 is a very chill dude. One half of gangsta-but-party-killing duo dead prez, M1 might have used this solo debut to kick up his feet, take a deep breath, and try to enjoy a couple of elements in his environment - you know, sunshine, flowers, maybe a flat-screen plasma television. The biggest shock on Confidential is that he really tries; the album allows some jazzy summer barbecue fun to permeate, particularly when M1′s brand of incensed urgency is paired with some soulful femininity like Cassandra Wilson, Raye, or the fantastic Stori James.

    Every modern hip-hop album must have an intro, but M1 doesn’t waste a second to break from the norm, giving his listeners an actual intro; that is to say, a gradual and light introduction to an effort that, in about fifty minutes, gracefully presides over the coolest poly-sci lesson on campus. A string of outstanding tracks is led off by “Land, Bread, & Housing,” a sly and completely effective comeback to the ‘money, rims & bitches’ lifestyle that misdirects the priorities of so many otherwise talented artists. “For You,” a plaintive, hard-as-granite dedication to a baby mama is complemented by the smooth title song featuring the sexiest chorus this side of Mariah, a side of M1 that’s unnerving to a long-time prez fan; despite the adjustment period, it becomes undeniable that this may be M1′s best side, though he fails to recognize that “It’s A Conspiracy” may not be the ladies’ knockout line it used to be.

    There are missteps, to be sure. “Been Through” showcases an embarrassingly uninspired Ghostface cameo, and “Gunslinger,” while cool in a jokey way, is still jokey. But as a whole, Confidential is an acknowledgment that simply “going political” is no longer the radical move in hip-hop, but rather the focused and imaginative compilation of a solid string of high quality tracks.

  Mixtape D.L.
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