It's a sign of the times when rap's tightest lyricists make excuses on the dolo for their microphone finesse. Blackalicious's the Gift of Gab wields his rhyme like a weapon on knuckleheaded retards while making a facetious apology for not bringing a gat along. And true to his name, he does it not by offending, but through stinging verbs and acerbic metaphors. He out-tongues Twista over a flow-revving Digital Underground sound, and rhymes like Busta with more breath control; by the time he reaches the end of his poetic line in tracks like "Stardust," you're the breathless one.
True to his name
Photograph by Winni Wintermeyer
True to his name


The Gift of Gab
4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up
Quannum Projects

Without production partner Xcel on 4th Dimensional Rocketship Going Up, Gift's a Northern California B-boy with a jazz and funk jones gully enough to slip a breakbeat's back. Tracks like "The Writz," relying on awkward interpolations of classics for hooks, don't fully fly. But "Just Because" provides an out-of-body experience akin to "dipping your third eye into a tab of liquid acid for some psychedelic clarity to breathe amongst the madness."

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