Chino XL

RICANstruction: The Black Rosary

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Four years off between albums isn't unusual for the Puerto Rican rapper Chino XL, but Ricanstruction: The Black Rosary was promised and previewed way back in 2009, spending three years on the shelf before finally seeing release in 2012. It could be the reason this literate and punch-line filled monster of an album sprawls itself across two discs, and with Chino's love of puns, wordplay, and jokes that demand to be rewound ("Chances higher than Sean Kingston catching diabetes") all being delivered with his identifiable phrasing and flow, redundancy is an issue. Still, a material-starved fan won't complain as redundant doesn't necessarily mean low quality, and whether one should drop "It's Not Too L8te" for the similar-sounding "N.I.C.E." becomes a difficult choice with the former offering "Ain't that about a bitch?/Like Diana Ross' biography" and the latter giving up "Mind weaponry from the time of the Byzantines/You talkin' metaphysically but Chino's metal physically." Best of them all has to be the heartbreaking "Father's Day," which will stir the soul of any proud parent, but "90 Bars of Intervention" is a close second place with its story of Chino's struggle, and when the late Big Pun is put posthumously on a cut and it works beautifully, then "Kings" must place third. The highlights are way high, everything else works well to very well, but to work best, this Ricanstruction takes some reconstruction so bring your patience.

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