Black Indian

Get 'Em Psyched: The Album

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Because hip-hop has so many different regional styles, a review of Washington, D.C., rapper Black Indian's debut solo album, Get 'Em Psyched!!, would be inadequate without some discussion of geography and how it has affected him musically. If any American city is right on the Mason-Dixon Line and offers an interesting north/south blend, it's D.C. Half of its suburbs are in a southern state (Virginia), while the other half are in a state that's considered northern (Maryland) -- and D.C. hasn't escaped the influence of either the North or the South. If you're from New York, Boston, or Philadelphia, D.C. feels more southern than your hometown, although D.C. feels very northern if you're from Richmond or Atlanta. So it isn't surprising that while Black Indian doesn't quite flow like a New York or Philly MC, you wouldn't mistake him for a rapper from the Deep South either. If Indian is representing D.C., he's doing a good job because tracks like "Hoe Card," "Corner to Corner," and "The Fight Song" are -- like D.C. itself -- neither entirely southern nor entirely northern. Tragically, D.C. has some of the highest crime rates in the U.S., and Indian doesn't hesitate to address the inner city's harsh realities on "3 Strikes," "Tell Me Where My Life's At," and "Get Dat Dough Quick." And on the poignant, inspiring "Momma," he describes the way a parent's guidance can help prevent a youth from succumbing to the pitfalls of ghetto life. In contrast to the late 2Pac Shakur's tragic "Dear Mama" -- which is about making the wrong choices despite a mother's guidance -- Black Indian's "Momma" seems to have a happy ending. Meanwhile, some of the other songs on this CD are simply fun and escapist, including the Caribbean-flavored "Smoke Me One" and the 1980s-influenced "Makin' Cash Money" (a duet with Brooklyn native Biz Markie). From sobering social commentary to more lighthearted escapism, this enjoyable, if imperfect, debut indicated that Black Indian was an MC to keep an eye on.

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