Prophets of Rage

Brand New World

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From Public Enemy to Run-D.M.C. and L.L. Cool J, a lot of rap has been dissonant, abrasive and amelodic. But when Dr. Dre became so influential a producer in the late 1980s, he did his part to popularize melodic tracks in hip-hop. Clearly influenced by Dre's sleek production style, Brand New World was one of the best-sounding rap releases of mid-1997. But while the Prophets of Rage favor a smooth, accessible, R&B-influenced approach to production, their lyrics aren't aimed at commercial urban contemporary tastes. On this consistently sociopolitical disc, the northern California group (which goes for the type of rapid-fire, jerky style of rapping that artists ranging from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to Spice One have embraced) addresses such issues as poverty, racism, drugs and urban violence with noteworthy results. This isn't an innovative or groundbreaking CD, but it definitely satisfies.

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