Ini Kamoze

Lyrical Gangsta

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The title of this album gives away Kamoze's clear intention: to continue cashing in on the massive success of his 1994 single "Here Comes the Hotstepper" (the second line of which was "I am the lyrical gangster"). It may not have been as much of a commercial success, but with Lyrical Gangsta Kamoze does do an effective job of continuing to develop his uniquely aggressive reggae-hip-hop fusion. On several tracks he seems to be trying just a bit too hard to prove his gangster bona fides: when he repeatedly drops the F-bomb on "Hole in Ya Head" it sounds forced and awkward, and "Kildatsoundboy," which is built on a highly effective adaptation of the "Ring the Alarm" rhythm, is just a bit over the top, lyrically speaking. But his duet performance with Guru (of Gang Starr fame) is a great juxtaposition of two very different rapping styles, and "King Selassie" is a surprisingly sincere and sweetly melodic example of rootswise dancehall. The remix of "Hot Steppa" and the dubwise "Imagine...In Dub" are also both well worth hearing. This album may not be Kamoze's best, but it's not bad at all.

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