Dr. Israel

Black Rose Liberation

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Working solo, Dr. Israel came up with one of the most stunning albums of the '90s, the towering jungle-dub fusion of Inna City Pressure. When teamed with others, however, the good Doc's powerful impact has sometimes been diluted; his pairing with the Trumystic Sound System collective found the amazing electro-reggae undercut by pedestrian hip-hop from guest rappers. Black Rose Liberation, which sees Dr. Israel joined by the Brooklyn Jungle Sound System, is more focused and satisfying than his work with Trumystic, although despite the title, there's almost no jungle besides the outstanding "Sensi Man," and the hip-hop portions of the program are still hit or miss. "Roots, Culture and Murder (Brooklyn Is)" is the best of the latter, using a sizzling live funk groove and jazzy piano to drive home the Doc's concerns. Meanwhile, he offers some of his deepest roots reggae grooves yet on the excellent title track, "Afrika Youth," and "Equal Rights." Dedicated to Malcolm X and Che Guevara, the album tackles Dr. Israel's usual themes -- racism, police brutality, political corruption -- with intelligence and conviction, although the last proper song, "Bottom (Down at The)," is a theatrically Afrocentric spoken word pout that represents a low point for the disc. However, a trio of dub versions of the three most reggae-fied songs follow, ending the proceedings on a pleasant whiff of ganja smoke.

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