Blueprint

1988

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"Fresh for '88, you suckas." KRS-One said it on "My Philosophy," and MC/producer Blueprint repeats it 17 years later on "Anything Is Possible." Blueprint samples, quotes, or pays homage to Doug E. Fresh, Run-D.M.C., Stetasonic, and other old-school artists on this tribute to the golden age of hip-hop. He isn't really trying to break new ground on this relatively accessible collection of concise, melodic songs, but he is trying to add something to his influences instead of settling for a nostalgia trip. DJ Rare Groove's cuts and scratches fit the throwback vibe, while Blueprint's beats tweak old-school ideas, whether he's working with a Billy Joel piano fill on "Big Girls Need Love Too" or Doug E. Fresh-style beatboxing on "Fresh." The only guest MCs are Aesop Rock and CJ the Cynic, who appear on one song each. Blueprint provides some cunning rhymes and changes up his delivery to fit the album's diverse subject matter, whether it's the earnest social commentary of "Inner-City-Native-Son," the playfulness of the aforementioned "Big Girls Need Love Too," the obligatory braggadocio and complaints about wack MCs, or even the emotional vulnerability he displays on the second verse of "Liberated." His observations seem most trenchant when he's complaining about the current state of hip-hop on songs such as "Trouble On My Mind," which serves as a reminder that it ain't 1988 anymore.

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