Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • The Idea of Beautiful [Jamla/Culture Over Everything, 2012] *
  • Beauty and the Beast [Jamla/Culture Over Everything EP, 2014] **
  • Laila's Wisdom [Roc Nation, 2017] A-
  • Eve [Jamla/Roc Nation, 2019] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Idea of Beautiful [Jamla/Culture Over Everything, 2012]
Having waited years to unload her wisdom, she does go on about it ("Believe Me [9th Wonder HaHaHaHa Remix Mix]," "Celebration") *

Beauty and the Beast [Jamla/Culture Over Everything EP, 2014]
Underground rap manifesto as genuinely worthwhile endeavor ("Hard to Choose," "The Man") **

Laila's Wisdom [Roc Nation, 2017]
Country girl Marlanna Evans only got into hip-hop at North Carolina State, and 2017 Grammy nominations or no 2017 Grammy nominations she'll never be a promising young rapper again. Not only is she 35, she's too sane, too civilized, too deep into deep-soul beats every bit as Southern as their trap antitheses. Yet on this artistic breakthrough her "real life rap" matches her conversational, comprehensible, musically modest flow to content that's anything but regional. Rhyming her diary and mulling her cultural tribulations, she represents for young black working women everywhere. Would they all were so quick-lipped. Would they all had enough money. Would they all had a Busta Rhymes at the ready when they feel the need for some sugar. A-

Eve [Jamla/Roc Nation, 2019]
Because excessive solemnity is woke music's cardinal sin, I wish "Serena" came up earlier than track six, because by then I was craving a hook I couldn't get enough of, plus this one is lifted from Miami's Dr. Luke, of censored, sexist "Me So Horny" renown. It's so reassuring to hear this staunchly political North Carolinian 36-year-old embrace those particular Southern roots, helping me relish as well as admire her tireless rhyming: "Tommy Boy" to "tomboy," "mothership" to "other shit," "anime" to "Anna Mae" (Bullock, look it up), and it don't stop. With every track named after a black heroine--the part of Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Hatshepsut is played by who other than Queen Latifah--Rapsody keeps the knowledge coming. Representing for the brothers is who else but J. Cole. And for that Marianne Williamson touch here's L.A. "self-love" advocate Reyna Biddy. A-