Nocturnal Rage

Way Out Your Mind

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It's hard to bust on an album that pays cover homage to Funkadelic's Free Your Mind...and Your Ass Will Follow, or on a hip-hop band that records its second album entirely on traditional instruments, completely forsaking loops and samples. Indeed, that live-in-the-studio feel is endemic to Way Out Your Mind; funnily enough, though, it's the three MCs in the group that benefit the most from the recording methods. On the opening "Emerald City," the rappers have a near-frenzied vocal energy that sounds weirdly at odds with the sluggish acid rock wail of the music. Similarly, the album high point, "Get Your Hands Out My Pockets," is more impressive for the assertive blend of Sly & the Family Stone-style chanted choruses and high-speed rapped verses than for its catchy '70s-style soul backing. There's nothing wrong with the music on Way Out Your Mind, but it's fairly consistently overshadowed by the skillful MCs that are the tracks' constant focal point. Boost the playing to match the rapping and Nocturnal Rage will make an album for the ages.

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