DM & Jemini

Ghetto Pop Life

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Although released by Warp's cerebral hip-hop imprint Lex Records (Boom Bip, Tes), DM & Jemini's Ghetto Pop Life has more in common with the cartoonish bump of California's lionized old school than with any current indie hip-hop aesthetic. Danger Mouse's loopy, jazzy production style and Jemini's excitable, careening vocals (think Slim Kid 3) conjure immediate comparisons to mid-'90s backpacker touchstones Souls of Mischief and Pharcyde, the latter of whom actually guest on the gothic maypole flutter of "Medieval." While unavoidable, these striking similarities don't detract from the album, probably because DM & Jemini are too busy having fun to sermonize, wag fingers, or pine for days long passed. Standouts include the widescreen first single "Ghetto Pop Life," the velvety glimmer of "Yoo Hoo!," and the Just Blaze-inspired helium soul of the club-ready "The Only One." Things flag a bit as the album winds down -- the wincingly clich├ęd political rap of "Bush Boys" feels strained and out of place -- but for the most part, it brims with hooks, bump, and energy. Evocative without being pointlessly nostalgic and fun without being goofy, Ghetto Pop Life is a convincingly strong debut.

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