Lakim Shabazz

Pure Righteousness

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The first of two unjustly swept-to-the-side albums cut by Flavor Unit member Lakim Shabazz and his primary producer, DJ Mark the 45 King -- who featured the young and energetic MC on releases like Master of the Game, Rhythmical Madness, and The 900 Number -- Pure Righteousness is equal parts brash boasting and shouts to the Five Percent Nation of Islam, supported by dusty funk and jazz breaks, a little scratching, and some occasional drum machine-driven boom bap. There's even a hip-house instrumental, "Adding On," based around D-Train's "You're the One for Me." That one hasn't aged too well, and the album isn't quite a classic, but it is essential for anyone into late-'80s and early-'90s rap that paid serious due to the Five Percent Nation, from Paris' The Devil Made Me Do It to X Clan's To the East, Blackwards. The album is front-loaded with its two best tracks, both lyrically and musically, with Shabazz's voice at its most potent and inciting. And yeah, the second track, "Black Is Back," was quite possibly a major inspiration behind the "I'm Black, Y'All" (aka "I'm blackedy black black b-black black, yo, 'cause I'm black and I'm back") spoof in CB4. Still, it's hard not to get caught in its racing rush of electric piano, "Funky Drummer" loop, and proud rhymes, which do go well beyond pointing out the color of Shabazz's skin.

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