Illuminati Congo

Illuminati Congo

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    7
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Illuminati Congo (you've got to love that band name) are a Chicago-based hip-hop ensemble whose core membership includes rapper/toaster Jahn the Baptist and producer Nic the Graduate. On its debut album, the duo is joined by such internationally famous names as Luton Fyah, Big Youth, and Cee Knowledge (of Digable Planets), as well as locally known hip-hop figures Juice, Ang 13, Sharkula, Yaw, and I Black. The album's offerings are at times stunning, and never dip below the level of pretty dang good. Interestingly, the least impressive entries are the most straightforward hip-hop tracks: "Tell Me Who" (which traffics in tired resentments) and "Jahnigga" (which also shoots at easy targets without bringing anything sonically interesting to the mix, despite some nicely subtle turntablism). At the other end of the spectrum are standout tracks like "Eternal Life," with its honking ska horns, shuffling funk drums, and a grumbling, glowering string section; the unbelievably funky "Tweakin" (featuring local rapper Juice); and the dubwise, melodica-laced dancehall workout "No Matter What." Everything else falls somewhere in between, which means that on the whole, this album is very good indeed.

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