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Melky Sedeck also try to restore an important element to black music's design philosophy. They are integrationists, who like a little deep house in their hip-hop. An early version of Melky Sedeck's first album sported a less informative title and a somewhat different selection of songs. And unlike every other act we've discussed, Melky Sedeck have a studio sound not rooted in acoustic performance. The songs on Sister&Brother sound flatter and less riveting on CD than in concert, where Sedeck improvises on keyboards while Melky uncorks octaves of volcanic sound.

Seductively distressed Macy Gray
photo: Stephane Sednaoui
Seductively distressed Macy Gray

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Toshi Reagon
The Righteous Ones
Razor & Tie

Me'shell Ndegéocello
Bitter
Maverick

Angie Stone
Black Diamond
Arista

Macy Gray
On How Life Is
Epic

Melky Sedeck
Sister&Brother
MCA

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Despite perfunctory rap cameos throughout the album, what Sister&Brother wants to be is a groundbreaking blend of dance music's exuberant melodicism and hip-hop electronics. (Think Zhane or Joyce Sims, without the redundancy factor.) The problem is, radio still ain't ready. The Rose Royce lick that adorns "Shake It" is so speedy that black radio will dismiss it like Crisco disco. These kids are not working the angle of pure technique like Toshi and Me'Shell; nor are they historical revisionists like Macy and Angie, with temporal displacement a central feature of their design theory. They want nothing less than a style of performance that will reconcile butch hip-hoppers with fey houseketeers. The rapport Melky Sedeck want to reestablish between black dance music and its estranged siblings is crucial to the healthy evolution of r&b. Because until r&b reincorporates the emotional vulnerability and psychological concerns long exiled to the discredited realm of dance music, it won't have the structural integrity to reach the next stage.

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