Bright Black

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After he helped craft two of the finest hip-hop records of the '90s -- Digable Planets' Reachin' and Blowout Comb -- it's a total surprise to be greeted by such a boring record as Bright Black, the debut from Cherrywine (either founded by or consisting of Ishmael Butler aka Butterfly). In the seven years between Digable Planets' dissolution and the release of his new record, Butler moved from Brooklyn to Seattle, picked up the guitar and started playing keyboards, jamming with blues and funk musicians like guitarist Thaddeus Turner and bassist Gerald "Tugboat" Turner. Sounding like a poor third cousin to Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On, Bright Black is a muddle of single-hook guitar jams, with detached commentary from Butterfly -- impossible to recognize from his vibrant, intelligent lyrics while with Digable Planets. It's N.E.R.D. without the hooks or production finesse, Q-Tip minus the free flow and smooth sound, and it's a deep disappointment for Digable Planets fans who've been waiting eight years for a Butterfly solo album.

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