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17 December, 2006@12:00 am

     Remember the Juggaknots? For this generation of hip-hop fans, the answer is probably “no”, but for those who are deeply entrenched in the evolution of underground and east coast hip hop, the Juggaknots represent much more than a blank stare.  The duo that gave you “Clear Blue Skies” was supposed to do so much more than be remembered for one incredibly racially charged track. But just as soon as they were praised, they disappeared. Buddy Slim and Breezly Brewin have returned after nearly a decade hiatus and have brought little sister Queen Herawin to bring back the Juggaknots, with Use Your Confusion.

    So the question after all these years is if they are still relevant. After a decade out the game, it would be easy to write them off, but when Breezly comes back with his steady multi-syllable flow, many may remember why they were so touted in the first place. Breezly hasn’t been seen much (except for the main role of Tariq on Prince Paul’s Prince Among Thieves from a few years back), but his flow is one you can’t forget. It sounds slow at first, but when the words roll of his tongue, one might be astounded by his lyrical dexterity. He glows incessantly on the shimmering “30 Something”, as he and Sadat X deal with being a grown-up in the world of hip-hop.  Amongst a sparse piano arrangement, Brewin contemplates being irrelevant in today’s environment.

    The female element comes in the form of Queen Herawin, who does a great job of holding her own on Use Your Confusion. She combines raw raps with a female perspective to give Juggaknots a little extra balance.  She absolutely illuminates the Oh No produced “Daddy’s Little Girl”, as she reflects on growing up under her father’s wing. Some may be quick to write her off as a Jean Grae imitation, but upon further inspection one can see the Breezly influence in her rhyme patterns which gives Herawin an advantage all to her own.

    Aside from the standout cuts, the Juggaknots do a good job of proving their relevance in Hip-Hop.  Buddy Slim and Breezly Brewin handle a bulk of the production and to good results. Buddy Slim’s “30 Something” and the title track provide just enough punch to hold the album over, while Oh No’s contributions (“Daddy’s Little Girl” and the subsonic groove of “Vows”) give the album some variation.

    However there are some hiccups on the album, which coupled with the overly consistent styles of the two emcees, could be the album’s Achilles’ Heel for new listeners. But for the dedicated fans, this should be a good enough treat. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another decade for a Juggaknots album again.

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