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Gift of Gab
"Fourth Dimensional Rocket Ships Going Up"
by: Sun-J

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Gift of Gab, let me brief you with a quick history lesson. In 1998 a group who called themselves Blackalicious released an album called Nia. The album was filled with soul, sultry beats and smooth, charismatic, quick lipped lyrics. The most famed single, and perhaps the one song that put them on the map, was "Alphabet Aerobics." In 2002, Blackalicious came back with Blazing Arrow. The super syllabic storm on this album is "Chemical Calisthenics," but it was more of the soulful, politically aware "First in Flight," that garnered street respect and put emcees all around in check with its intellectual content. Blackalicious is made of two men, an emcee, Gift of Gab, and a DJ, DJ Chef Xcel. Gift of Gab made his name firing off lyrics 100mph in "Alphabet Aerobics." Bone Thugs 'N Harmony were fast, but it was more harmonious. Twista claims to have the quickest tongue in the game, but I doubt that he can match Gift of Gab syllable for syllable. Twista is fast there is no doubt, but Gab can just fit more complex structured verbs in 16 bars than anyone else east of Oakland. I have had the fortune to see both Twista and Gift of Gab perform live. When Gab does "Alphabet Aerobics," he always brings a gorgeous woman on stage with him tohold up signs of the letter he is on, and forty five seconds into the song, the woman is always confused and lost. Many 'heads' feel GOG is the most talented, lyricist, however I beg to defer. No matter how controversial this is, I still feel pound for pound, Eminem brings the complete package on the mic (just listen to any song featuring Eminem and another artist. He always murders them. He destroyed Jay-Z!). Though I will say this. Most emcees in the underground scene often times seem to just cluster verses with multi-syllabic sounds that often do not make sense. GOG has carefully crafted all of his songs to connect the vocabulary making it easy to follow (not rap along with).

On Fourth Dimensional Rocket Ships Going Up, Gift of Gab continuously brings heat on the mic, but is often outside of his element. The ultra fast paced song on this album is "Rat Race," where Gab delivers over a French horn laden beat, "Get your money young playa, I ain't mad at y'all, have to bring soul like Stacie Lattislaw." "Way Of the Light," is far too gentle for Gab's brashness while GOG displays stunning control on "Stardust," a track that compares bling-bling to the "bang-bang" of "Rapper's Delight." "Flashback," uses John Sebastian's theme from "welcome Back, Kotter," and is a prominent song reflecting on Gab's childhood. On "Real MCs," Gab puts all emcees in check lyrically throwing more punch lines than Zab Judah. "In A Minute, Doe," is a unique song paying homage to his nephew while "Evolution," would put a smile on Charles Darwin's face. "Moonshine" is an awkward sounding song dealing with booze of all things "Ride On," closes the album with butter-smooth verses over a jazz-funkdafied beat. Well I always used to think that an instrumental didn't even matter for Gift of Gab. To be honest, I can recollect verses from "Alphabet Aerobics," but can't even fathom what the beat sounded like from memory. Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up made me realize how important DJ Chef Xcel is to the group. On this album I made sure to pay careful attention to the beats, and found that often times Gab unsuccessfully mimicked the Blackalicious sound. The jazz-soul was there, but for the most part it lacked elements such as the subtle piano touches found on Nia, and especially Blazing Arrow. Gab is a talented man, he even outshines his Quannum label mates, Lyrics Born and Lifesavas (two very strong acts), but I just can't feel the solo career. It is yet to be determined why Gab went solo, I doubt there is any riff between him and Chef Xcel, but from the sound of this release it is hard to believe there is another man out there who can better compliment Gab's lyrical tenacity.


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