Nine Livez

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With legendary NYC DJ Funkmaster Flex in his corner, the raspy-voiced Bronx MC Nine released his debut album in 1995. The self-proclaimed straight-out-the-gutter MC tattoos his rabid delivery and distinctly salacious lyrical bravado all over the album. The song that got the buzz going for this alley cat was "Whatchu Want," a slick radio-friendly joint despite its street mentality; the rest of the album belies the crossover appeal of this track. Nine's lyrics scratch, thrash and claw on tracks like "Redrum" and "Everybody Won Heaven." The infectious, uneven groove supplied on "Redrum" is the artist at his grimy, lowdown best. The Spinners' classic '70s soul tune "I'll Be Around" is the driving impetus behind arguably the best track on the album, "Any Emcee." It's smooth ruggedness pays homage to the B-Boy tradition by featuring a superb lyrical sample from the legendary Rakim. Nine's throaty, expressive vocal tone gives this album a distinctively rugged slant. While far from a classic, Nine Livez is an under-appreciated album from an underrated artist.

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