Ursula Rucker

Supa Sista

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Spoken word poetry is something of an acquired taste, and the debut from Philadelphia native Ursula Rucker, though promising, is unlikely to bring many new converts to the movement. The poetess has made quite a name for herself over the years, working with artists ranging from techno titans like King Britt and Josh Wink to hometown hip-hoppers the Roots and Bahamadia. On Supa Sista, she gets her turn in the spotlight, with a subdued speech pattern and sultry vocal cadences well-suited to the airy trip-hop grooves that back most of the tracks. Songs like "What???" and "One Million Ways to Burn" work wonderfully, the former matching aggressive lyrics about the state of black music today against 4 Hero's urgent rhythms, the latter pairing her sexy voice with a sensual funk groove from Jonah Sharp to create a perfect soundtrack for horizontal entwinement. But on some tracks, repetitive grooves or insistent chants prove irritating, taking the listener out of the mood the other tunes worked so hard to create. Still, all in all a fine debut.

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