Next School

Settin' an Example

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There are certain dangers inherent in forming a band around a social concept. It's an approach that guarantees the band's music will be primarily concerned with bearing the group's Big Message, with generally shrill and heavy-handed results. The Next School was a multiracial rap duo built around the Big Message of -- guesses, anyone? -- racial unity. That's certainly an admirable theme, but it takes more than intercultural goodwill to make music that's worth listening to. The only track worth spinning on this disc is "Good to Go," a bracingly funky number that boasts the catchiest sampled hooks to be found anywhere on the album; most of the rest have titles like "Funk University" and drag along in a ho-hum hip-hop rut. Then there's the sincerity question -- how seriously are we to take the group's declarations of interracial uplift when Ali Dee (the white one) brags at length about how he tried (apparently without success) to mug someone and then got roughed up by the cops? The Next School has sunk without a trace, and with good reason.

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