Father MC

Close to You

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In the 21st century, rap and R&B are seriously joined at the hip. Urban contemporary singers go out of their way to feature major rappers, and even the most hardcore MCs employ R&B singers on their recordings. But it wasn't always that way. In the '80s, hip-hop encountered a great deal of resistance in R&B circles, and many hardcore rappers wanted nothing to do with R&B. Father MC did his part to change that. Like Whodini, Salt-N-Pepa, the Fresh Prince, Heavy D, and Young MC before him, Father envisioned a style of hip-hop that was commercial, unthreatening, R&B-drenched, and pop-friendly, but not lightweight or bland; arguably, his new jack swing-minded albums of the early '90s were the rap equivalent of Bobby Brown or Keith Sweat. While Close to You is hardly the work of a hip-hop purist, this 1992 release demonstrates that pop-rap can have integrity. Yes, the CD is full of urban contemporary slickness and romantic themes (as opposed to battle rhymes or hard-hitting tales of thug life in the 'hood), but Father's rapping skills are never in doubt; he flows with plenty of confidence, and his East Coast rhyming technique is consistently impressive. Close to You underscores the fact that not all pop-rap is created equal. The rhyming skills of some pop-rappers have been limited at best -- Vanilla Ice immediately comes to mind -- while the more substantial ones (Salt-N-Pepa, the Fresh Prince, Heavy D) have had no problem getting their flow on. Clearly, Father MC falls into the latter category, and his impact was enormous in the early '90s. Father's 1990 debut, Father's Day, is widely regarded as his most important and essential release, but Close to You was a solid, enjoyable follow-up for the Bronx native.

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