Born Gangstaz

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Just as fantastical and less forced than plenty of other gangsta rap records released in 1992, Boss' Born Gangstaz is a remarkable album that has gone underappreciated in the hip-hop world. Abetted by a laundry list of reputable producers -- Jam Master Jay, T Ray, MC Serch, Def Jef, AMG, Erick Sermon -- MC Lichelle Laws and DJ Irene Moore shrug at a cruel world, claim to not care, drink like fishes, smoke like Cypress Hill, live like thieves, and accord the opposite sex no respect whatsoever. In fact, no one and no thing is given any degree of respect, and it's clear that they've got a death wish. All of this would be met with a shrug if Laws had less-than-remarkable vocal and lyrical skills, but she's just as adept at painting vivid scenarios while riding the rhythms as any of her producers. She doesn't simply flip the gender roles of the average gangsta record; "tricks" expecting to get some end up getting some in the form of bullets. Her delivery consistently sounds collected but set to blast, and the productions almost always complement her detached, matter-of-fact viewpoint. Too bad the answering-machine messages left by Laws' parents soften the blunt impact of this cold, cold record.

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