With “alternative” rap, i.e., hip hop consumed predominantly by whites, getting all the positive media attention and gangster rap all the negative, one could get the impression that there’s nothing else out there. This terrific hip hop review proves such is not the case. Resurrection (Relativity), the second album by Common Sense, is not only the best Chicago hip hop album ever, it’s one of the two or three best hip hop efforts to come out last year, period. Consistent from start to finish–no mean feat in hip hop–the album’s jazzy grooves provide infectious backing for raps rooted in the reality of black life. Like all the artists on this bill, Common Sense has no use for PC preaching; his code of ethics–and he’s definitely guided by a concrete morality–has no relation to that of a college student, and why should it? College students aren’t generally concerned with everyday survival. The rest of the acts on the bill are from the greater New York City area. The excellent debut from Artifacts, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Big Beat/Atlantic), is short on social commentary but long on hot grooves and astonishingly fluid raps. Offering more progressive mentalities, Organized Konfusion and Boogiemonsters both take pains to express the constant pressures of black life. In fact the second OK album, STRESS: The Extinction Agenda (Hollywood), is largely a concept album focusing on how external forces can drive a person to extremes. Tunes like “Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress” from the Boogiemonsters’ fine debut, Riders of the Storm: The Underwater Album (Pendulum/EMI), tackle similar conceits. Rather than glamorize the violent results of such pressures, both groups elucidate their causes. The Beatnuts also perform. Saturday, 9 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee; 509-6482.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photos/Chris Anda; Chi Modu; Ci Ci; Carl Posey.