All That and a Bag of Words

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There was a time not too long ago when spoken word seemed poised to break into the mainstream, and this urban poet from Long Beach was heralded as one of the brightest talents on the mid-'90s scene. At times, he wears his influences a bit too proudly on his sleeve: the opening "The Revolution Will Be on the Big Screen" is a direct rewrite of Gil Scott-Heron's classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," and the cadences of D-Knowledge's delivery borrow liberally from both Heron and fellow '70s Afrocentric legends the Last Poets. These are some mighty big shoes to fill, and on cuts like "Just Bein'" and the title track, the young poet's affected vocal inflections simply don't ring true. But, on other songs, such as the sultry "To Be or Not to Be," the dramatic "Sometimes I Wonder," and the transcendent "Jealousy," D-Knowledge seems more relaxed, content with the natural sound of his own voice. It is at these moments -- relaxed, smooth, with a firm grasp of the language and rhythms of poetry -- that the artist begins to live up to his promise, proving himself a worthy heir to the griot legacy of his forefathers.

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