Craig G

This Is Now

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Craig G.'s first solo album in over a dozen years, This Is Now isn't a postcard to the golden age, though that's the period when classics like "Droppin' Science" made his name famous. Instead of dropping out of circulation after he lost his contract with Atlantic in the early '90s, Craig stayed in the business, working as a New York radio DJ and making mix tapes on the side. Propelled by excellent beats from friends both old and new (Marley Marl, Large Professor, DJ Premier, Rockwilder, Da Beatminerz), it's clear that he's still got the skills and the instincts to make a relevant record nearly 20 years after his debut. Although his best track is a brief Biggie soundalike ("Words From Warbucks"), most of the time Craig's most comfortable with a style similar to that his fans remember -- one that influenced next-wave rappers like Jeru the Damaja and Afu Ra, the latter of whom appears here -- though he's slightly more aggressive for a post-hardcore age. Nothing here leaps out of the gate like his '80s classics, but he does hit plenty of highs, like the Large Professor jam "Love Is Love"; the Afu Ra collaboration "Dribble or Shoot"; and a rare taste of hip-hop normalcy, "Damn This Day."

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