Giant Panda

Fly School Reunion

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Los Angeles-via-Seattle trio Giant Panda takes the Way-Back Machine to a distinctly golden era of hip-hop. MC Maanumental even says as much on the track "'90s," an era of production and rhyming styles that he, along with fellow MC/producers Newman and Chikaramanga (who mostly rhymes in his native Japanese), are intimately familiar with. Not a track goes by on FLY SCHOOL REUNION, their debut album, that doesn't have the spirits of Prince Paul's sample-heavy quirkiness or Large Professor's jazzy smoothness holding the beats down. The trio keeps the mood breezy, even when the subject matter gets serious ("Racist," "3rd Party"), as they reminisce about the days when jazz samples --not pop songs--colored the beats. Those with a soft spot for the old school will be pleased.

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