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It must say something about the state of hip-hop in the 21st century that whereas rappers used to brag about the size and number of their platinum chains and luxury SUVs, they are now starting to brag about their prowess at contract negotiation. (What exactly this development says about the state of hip-hop may be unclear, but it must say something.) For Richard Cowie, aka Wiley, contract terms are just one more topic out of left field that acts as grist for the high-speed grind of his lyrical flow. Others include existential search queries ("Some days I'm asking God/But then the Internet is quicker") and just plain existentialism ("Wise Man and His Words"). Even more important are the beats, which are absolutely all over the place, from the lurching grime of the title track (the deeply unsettled groove of which Wiley rides with aplomb) to the brilliantly spare and funky "Yonge Street (1,178 Miles Long)" and the nervous "Your Intuition." Other than the droning and lyrically banal "I Just Woke Up," virtually everything here is excellent. Even "Pink Lady" works, despite the fact that it's built on a 6/8 rhythm. Maybe one rapper in 1,000 can rap effectively in 6/8, and Wiley is one of them.

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