At the start of the 1980s, hip-hop was a New York phenomenon that was dominated by MCs from Harlem and the South Bronx -- at the end of the 1980s, hip-hop was an international phenomenon that was as popular in Brazil as it was in Sweden. Many rappers from Europe and Latin America don't rap in English at all; a big part of hip-hop is being "down with the hood," and if your hood (neighborhood) is in Milan, Italy, you're likely to rap in Italian. If your hood is in Rio de Janeiro, you're likely to rap in Portuguese. However, many Danish MCs have preferred to rap in English; Denmark's YB, in fact, raps in English exclusively on I A What I Am. A lot of Danes learn to speak English fluently in Denmark's public school system, and YB (short for Youngblood) has no problem rhyming in perfect English on this solid alternative rap effort. If you didn't know better, you would assume he was from the U.S.; his rhyming style owes a lot to American alterna-rappers like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Qwest and the Jungle Brothers. Like those MCs, YB is quite musical. Dance music (especially house) is an influence, and jazz is an even greater influence -- Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, Grant Green and Grover Washington, Jr. are among the jazz greats he samples on this CD, which, for the most part, was produced by SoulShock & Cutfather. I A What I Am wasn't a big seller in the U.S., although the album makes it clear that you don't have be American to have strong rapping skills.
I Am What I Am Review
by Alex Henderson