GFE

Bigga Than It Really Is

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Every once in a while, alternative rappers will make a point of coming up with something offensive or thuggish -- not because they are interested in shock value for the sake of sake of shock value, but because they get sick of being exalted as poster children for intellectual positivity in hip-hop. Common and De La Soul, for example, have done that on occasion. But the fact remains that alternative rap has, since the late '80s, been positive and good-natured more often than not. Alternative rap is a world of hipsters, beatniks, and hippies, not thugs and gangstas -- and as a rule, alterna-rap discs like Bigga Than It Really Is are more likely to appeal to rock or club/dance audiences than hip-hop's hardcore. Anyone who has spent a lot of time savoring the Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, Blackalicious, the Jungle Brothers, or Digable Planets should be aware of this 2003 release by GFE, who are from Asheville, NC, but take some of the "dirty" out of Dirty South. That isn't to say that this CD is square or unhip; GFE's alterna-rap is definitely funky and gritty, but not in a threatening or confrontational way -- these North Carolina hip-hoppers obviously have a strong appreciation of the peace-love-and-soul vibe that Sly Stone, Larry Graham, Earth, Wind & Fire, and other funksters favored back in the '70s. One of the songs on Bigga Than It Really Is features George Clinton ("Everybody Get High"), and GFE has even been compared to the Grateful Dead. This CD isn't quite as consistent as it could have been -- some of the tunes hold up better than others -- but overall, Bigga Than It Really Is leaves a favorable impression of the Southern alterna-rappers.

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