Black Moon

Diggin' In Dah Vaults

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With its first single, "Who Got the Props," Black Moon earned instant underground status. The cut eventually led to the equally outstanding Enta da Stage, which continued to mine the hazed-out jazzy vibe of "Props" as well as its street-savvy, quintessentially New York vocal style. It took longer than expected, however, for that album to appear. During the recording process, the trio produced a wealth of material that didn't make the album's final cut, and in the wake of the critical praise lavished on the debut as well as the fan demand created by it, Nervous Records decided to round up some of those unreleased tracks and couple them with remixes and previously uncollected single sides for the compilation Diggin' in dah Vaults. It is understandably not as consistent in sound as the group's debut, but Black Moon managed to turn that into an attribute. Specifically, the group split the album almost right down the middle and imbued each side with its own general tone and atmosphere. The first half is markedly unlike the mellow production values of the debut. The updated "Act Like U Want It," for instance, dispenses with the playful bassline and steady beat of the original album in favor of a funky piano figure and chaotic, siren-filled atmosphere. The other remixes go through more or less similar metamorphoses, while the new tracks follow in turn, ranging from the straight-up street corner exercise of "Buckshots Freestyle Joint" to the exuberant afternoon jam "F*ck It Up." The mood then shifts back to the viscous souled-out after-hours sound that characterized Enta Da Stage, as if following the trio through a city day and then on into the urban night, from a sweatier, more in-your-face feel -- all concrete and traffic and metallic sounds and swagger -- in the former half to cool, shadow-filled chill-out tracks in the latter. Both styles suit Black Moon -- and the listener -- just fine.

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