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Haiku D'Etat

Biography

Just as California cool jazz smoothed out the more dissonant and terse aspects of bop, so does the West's brand of rap lyricism strive toward the more fluid and melodic. Rarely has the rap ensemble worked as well as it does here, and it works not by highlighting the individual rapper's differences, as is usually the case, but rather by emphasizing the similarities. Aceyalone's interlocking phonetic exercises snuggle against Abstract Rude's ragga-inflected raps, while Mikah 9 smoothes everything out with a more relaxed, if not less complex, approach. It all works unbelievably well, and their 1999 self-titled debut is among the most celebrated disks to come out of the West Coast underground scene. Supreme pop critic Robert Christgau even placed the poorly distributed album on his year-end Dean's List.

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