Black Dialogue is another album to pick up for the friend who diligently forwards the Boondocks comic strip and regularly mourns the death of hip-hop's spirit of '90 (not realizing that the spirit of '90 wasn't all that different from the spirit of 2005; just as 2005 has a Ying Yang Twins for every Talib Kweli, '90 had a 2 Live Crew for every Tribe Called Quest). Underground figures Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, and DJ Fakts One are the Perceptionists, who nonetheless make an unsurprisingly damning case against the ill (not ill meaning good, but ill meaning bad) strains running through hip-hop: "Throwin' money at the screen that other brothers ain't catchin'"; "'Cause y'all some disappointments, like U.S.A. basketball"; "Yo ho hoes are the popular scum/Some MCs are nice, but the key word's some/Others suffer from suckerdom/Some succumb to a rough rhyme and some powerful drums." Lif and Akrobatik have a long history, so they sound natural as brainy verse-swapping partners, and they're sharp throughout, whether they have their sights set on the Bush Administration or are simply batting boasts back and forth. A good chunk of the production work is top-shelf frostbite funk, handled in turns by Fakts One, El-P, and newcomers Cyrus the Great, Willie Evans, and CamuTao. The trio coasts a little too much during the album's latter half, where so-so features are granted to Guru, Humpty Hump, and Little Brother's Phonte. As for whether or not the album is as fun as The Massacre or The Documentary, the answer should be pretty clear. Using that characteristic as a point of criticism, however, makes as much sense as shooting down Joy Division (whose sampled grinding guitars are not credited on "What Have We Got to Lose?!?") for not being as party-made as the Steve Miller Band. After all, have you ever been mad at an apple for not tasting like an orange?
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Humpty Hump