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Strong Arm Steady & Madlib: In Search of Stoney Jackson

Stones Throw

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West Coast rappers Strong Arm Steady and Madlib's perennially smooth journey In Search of Stoney Jackson is a return to true-school rhythm and soul in hip-hop. The album's slow beats and epic instrumentals foster nostalgia while Krondon's lyrical flow leads a balance of guttural street smarts and poetic alliteration in "Chittlins and Pepsi." From there, Stoney features a procession of newcomer MCs and old-school voices rhyming over backdrops of ghetto psychedelia. The resulting texture weaves samples from the '80s, '90s and now into an unrelenting groove that peppers classic cuts ("Best of Times," "New Love") with semi-duds ("True Champs," "Bark Like A Dog"). But from the workaday ode to getting high, "Cheeba Cheeba," to the pep-rally anthem "Get Started" (featuring Talib Kweli), the SAS crew rolls with a freewheelin' vibe. They aren't thugs, and they aren't trying to save the world, but they write songs like dudes hanging out, talking about what dudes like to talk about. 4 out of 5 stars.

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