Mello-D & the Rados

Antitainment

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Washington, D.C.-area rapper Mello-D, aka Darnley Hodge, is one of the more positive hip-hop artists out there, as displayed in "Cool Witchu," the leadoff single from his third album, Antitainment. The rap displays a remarkable degree of tolerance for everyone from atheists to fans of football teams other than the Redskins. No matter what you're into, Mello-D assures the listener, "I'm cool witchu." Elsewhere, the rapper at first seems to be indulging in a seduction fantasy in "The Ride: Bonita 2004," only to reveal at the end that he and his girlfriend have simply been role-playing. In "The Square Dance," he takes on a subject not much discussed among rappers, the working world in which an employee must deal with middle management (now there's a phrase you don't hear much in rap) in seeking a raise. Mello-D isn't above expressing himself in common ethnic vulgarities and obscenities (although the album does not contain a parental advisory), and, despite his name, he isn't entirely mellow. He gets angry and frustrated here and there, but even when he does, as on "Find a Why," his problems are those of a conventional man in conventional social and business situations, not the usual outsider rage heard in rap: he's worried about his blood pressure, his girlfriend wants him to be more communicative, BET thinks his video doesn't have good enough production values. (Well, OK, most of us don't have that last problem.) If rap is supposed to be about real life, Mello-D nevertheless presents a real life actually rarely discussed in rap, the life of paying bills, working for a living, and maintaining a relationship. This is one rapper who isn't celebrating drug-taking, misogyny, and violence, and it's also one who is not dependent on musical samples; he's perfectly capable of writing his own music and playing a mean saxophone, too.

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