Leanin' on Slick

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With producer Bionik back on board, Freestyle Fellowship member and veteran underground rapper Aceyalone continues to let the retro flow on this 2013 release, with '60s-styled R&B and hot buttered soul driving the music. It's a similar nostalgia to the one found on his 2009 effort The Lonely Ones, but if that time-traveling effort was inspired by early Motown and doo wop, this one prefers the Motor City's later music plus the twitchy funk of James Brown. "Cold Piece" stays on the scene like a sex machine while the killer title track creeps like a JB's deep cut with Aceyalone's sarcastic assessments and crass declarations ("I don't turn nuthin' down but my collar/Holler at your folks, tell 'em I'm all about the dollar") thrown on top. The ode to grown folks' hip-hop dubbed "30 and Up" is as crossover cool as Ramsey Lewis' finger-snappin' take on "The In Crowd" and while plenty of the moments here feel like a return to the trippy '90s heyday of Us3 or Digable Planets, the man's words are as pointed as ever, and downright caustic on the snide "I Can Get It Myself." After getting rid of the squares with the first half of the album, the second half breaks out into a party with the sneakerhead-aimed "Show Me Them Shoes" giving way to the Cee Lo Green feature "Workin' Man Blues," which is somewhere between Aloe Blacc's "I Need a Dollar" and a show tune. Daniel Merriweather helps to deliver the bright, sunshine-filled "Things Get Better" and suddenly the album is flirting with the 5th Dimension, but Aceyalone's tenth blends the pop with the powerful as well as it mixes the past and the present.

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