Grits

The Art of Translation

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On their fourth outing, Grammatical Revolution in the Spirit not only comes up with the best Christian hip-hop album ever, but the Nashville duo delivers a Dirty South tour de force that only OutKast has matched. The difference between the two groups is that Coffee (Stacy Jones) and Bonafide (Teron Carter) ignore their Atlanta brethren's exotic P-Funk fancies (both lyrical and musical) in favor of plainspoken rhymes, driving bounce, and sledgehammer hooks. But that certainly doesn't imply that GRITS lacks innovation, as The Art of Translation has a sense of adventure that hip-hop's mainstream lacks. More importantly, the group's style-hopping is universally successful, seamlessly incorporating Afro-Cuban sizzle ("Here We Go"), metallic guitar ("Seriously"), and even angsty alt-rock ("Believe," featuring labelmate Jennifer Knapp on the hook) into big-bottomed beats with the help of mixer Serban Ghenea, who adds the hit-bound sheen he brought to albums from Jay-Z, N.E.R.D., and Musiq. Yet, great as the album sounds, nothing on it is more remarkable than the sound of two conscious and gifted MCs responding to hip-hop thuggery with marriage and Jesus, instead of a hopeless "reality" or revolutionary tripe. "When GRITS is hot they bubble," they note on "Get It." They're hot here, on the most potent antidote to hip-hop's parade of pathologies in some time.

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