L' Palais de Justice

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To be warned, it is very easy to get cynical about any rap outside of America. Rappers in the States have developed such a strong unspoken set of rules for authenticity that anything that falls outside of that circle usually gets blasted by critics and fans alike. But Freeman and his partner, K. Rhyme le Roi, have two things going for them: they have excellent production and they can flow. These two ingredients make for a very interesting listen, as cynicism quickly fades away as the first four tracks display a RZA-esque production style and a rhyming style similar to Gangstarr or Tribe Called Quest's Phife. The sheer variety of material presented by the two rappers is a wonderful surprise; they can move from an R&B-flavored slow jam utilizing a sample of the Carpenters' "Superstar" ("Combien J'Ai Rame") to a hard-edged Wu Tang angst-fest ("Terre N'Est Pas Mon Chez Moi") with little or no effort. Some might be offset by the lack of English, but their intentions come through in their expressive tracks. Fans of rap should hunt this down; this is a prime example of how good hip-hop can be when filtered through another country's culture.

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