Da Bush Babees

Gravity

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After releasing a debut album, Ambushed, that went virtually nowhere in 1994, Da Bush Babees (consisting of Mr. Man, Lee Majors, and Y-Tee) from Flatbush came correct on this hugely improved second effort. There is not a single wrong note struck throughout Gravity, and it is just as artistically successful as albums from sonically similar groups such as A Tribe Called Quest (Q-Tip rhymes on "3 MCs" and associate the Ummah contributes production) and the Roots (human beat-box Rahzel is featured on "The Beat Down"), if not commercially so. The production is expertly minimalistic, and it creates a completely mellow, jazzy, shimmering recording that taps deeply into the hallucinatory, stoned, late-night vibe of both hip-hop and jazz. The primary touchstone, though, is dub reggae, and dub's characteristic rubbery bass gives the recording a bottomless, gummy, echoey resonance. The ragga-fied trio is just as lyrically intelligent as their sonic influences suggest. On "S.O.S.," one of two songs to feature a contribution from Mos Def, Lee Majors raps that "It's hard to be a prophet/and still make a profit," and the line inadvertently spotlights why Gravity is paradoxically more aesthetically but less commercially successful than any number of MTV-ready peers of the trio. Implied in the couplet is an understanding apology and built-in excuse for fellow rap groups that sacrificed their creativity and watered-down their edge for financial gain. Also inherent in the line, however, is the reason Da Bush Babees stood out from those peers with this album: They chose to maintain their artistic integrity.

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