The Craft


Epitaph Records, 2005

REVIEW BY: Brian Birnbaum


Blackalicious has been around for a while and have paid their dues to get where they are today. They spent almost 10 years on the underground label Solesides Records before it became Quannum Projects, and even that was still an independent label. Finally in 2002 they signed with a major label, MCA Records.


The duo consists of lyricist Gift of Gab and producer Chief Xcel, who met at John F. Kennedy High School and formed their first group, originally dubbed the Soulsides Crew and including other friends of theirs such as DJ Shadow and Lyrics Born. They made some mix tapes and singles together, but the first EP was released credited only to the duo in 1999. After an album with MCA (Blazing Arrow), Blackalicious wound up with Epitaph for their third full length, The Craft.

On The Craft, Blackalicious has come through with a solid album. I'm not a hip-hop aficionado but this group is one of the handful I listen to, since every song they make is so consistent lyrically and the production is always above par.

Gift of Gab is on the mic and Chief Xcel pumps out the beats, with the music no different here than on the duo's original releases. The production stands out on tracks like “Supreme People” and “Black Diamonds And Pearls,” the latter featuring an epic beat that will draw you back. It's quite addicting.

On the best track, “My Pen And Pad,” a good beat is overshadowed by a monologue-like verse that seems to never end, and yet you don’t want it to. In the latter portion of the song, Gift of Gab spits “Syllable after syllable give it to you / deliver you my / Intervals, sendin' you through dimensions who didn't know / Hidden in you, within you, when you get in the begin into it / Sentiments internets, couldn't send you yet signals you get.” It’s a perfect description of why we listen to music; he opens up emotions you didn’t know you had and connects with you.

Other standouts are “Rhythm Sticks” and the funky “Powers,” and although overall it's not flawless, it's consistent and worth hearing, even for people who are only fringe hip-hop listeners.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2006 Brian Birnbaum and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epitaph Records, and is used for informational purposes only.