Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

White Mandingos: The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me [Fat Beats, 2013]
Brainchild of Ego Trip's Sacha Jenkins, Bad Brains' Daryl Jenifer, and well-meaning backpack rapper Murs, this concept album about a well-meaning projects-born crossover rapper actually succeeds at saying something coherent about interracial possibility in America. Part of its secret is not digging too deep--the romances and family matters it describes partake of the contradictions everyone knows are there with the kind of clarity and humor that gatekeepers dismiss as corny only because gatekeepers think they're so great. Murs has always had trouble finding fresh material on the alt-rap circuit. By fictionalizing himself slightly, he gets to write what are essentially fables, and by adding guitars he gets dibs on a new bunch of beats. Released mid-2013, this album has no reputation I know of. But it should, because it does have heart, and that heart is made of muscle where so many fetishize marzipan. A-