Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Outsiders who are curious about dance music should keep an ear out for the impure stuff. Most new dance records are confusingly abstract unless you listen with your body in a public space big enough to hold the bass line. That's why In the Mode (Talkin' Loud/Island), the second album by British drum 'n' bass maestro Roni Size and his group Reprazent, is a find. Size's 1997 New Forms was like a modern Booker T. & the M.G.'s album--deeper-grooved than most, but a little spare. Here, to borrow his own metaphor, he puts flesh on the New Forms skeleton. Half a dozen tracks featuring Reprazent rapper MC Dynamite join guest appearances by Method Man and the Roots' human beat-box Rahzel and a wealth of melodic hooks to make this one like a Wu-Tang album where RZA's beats are the main attraction no matter what's happening up top (a good description, by the way, of the overlooked and recommended Ghost Dog soundtrack). Unfolding seamlessly from hard rap to diva lament to wierdo instrumental, it's the kind of rap-dance fusion many try and few come near.


No fewer than three current compilations make something of the rap-rock fusion Limp Bizkit takes to the bank. If Fred Durst imitations are your idea of progressive vocalizing, skip Priority's messily conceived and stupidly executed Rebirth of the Loud and try Republic's Take a Bite Outta Rhyme, where white bands cover black rap classics (including Dynamite Hack's memorable wimpification of N.W.A's Boyz-N-The Hood). But my energetic preference is for Loud Rocks, where the Wu-Tang Clan's stable of rappers rap over guitar beats that combine a grandeur worthy of RZA and an ugliness all their own.

Playboy, Nov. 2000


Oct. 2000 Dec. 2000