Name of Album: Blazing Arrow
Ratings: Personal - 2 General - 2
Release Date: Out Now

Not only is retro-soul seem to be holding court these days, but the Sixties in general also seems to be a wielding some influence as well. Or at least that is what Blackalicious's (you try pronouncing that) intro on their new album, Blazing Arrow, has led me to believe.

Self described as "everyday brothers," I might otherwise describe this less than dynamic duo as one-day bothers. These two California natives have put together a rap album, which almost seems more like alternative music album to me. The feeling is unsettling at best.

There is an impressive array of guest appearances on this album. However, only their names on the liner notes is what impress me. Gil Scot Heron's cameo in particular seems like a sell-out, considering that not only was he a legendary influential force back in the Sixties, but also because he has been otherwise absent all these years. His guest appearance made me think of a black Perry Como making a come-back.

Furthermore, the uneasiness of this work was abetted by songs like "4,000 Miles" which felt like it was being spread all too thin over that same self-titled distance.

However, now that I have relayed my rant, there were a few exceptions. "Nowhere Fast" sounds like old school rappers Third Base and Run DMC in their respective debuts, and therefore this song could not help but sound good to me. This is especially notable since Third Base's Cactus Album is on the top of my all time favorite 50 list, one which I've never seen make anyone else's "greatest rap of all time" revues for some odd reason. Kate Wyatt's honey dripping harmony is also worthy of making note of, and proves to be a pleasant break to the machine gun rappin' endemic to this album.

Track 12 is also exceptional. Its like they just opened a science dictionary and created their rap by flipping the pages. Although it may not merit a notation in Scientific American, it SOUNDS like Pulitzer prize poetry (take note: NOT IS, just sounds like). This song is novel and is constructed in a highly original manner as well. In fact, the title befits the song perfectly: "chemical calisthenics."

However, barring these few exceptions, there are no notable signs of musical genius here. Nor any particular intellect that makes sense. Regardless, somehow these two guys from San Francisco do evoke some sense of college education, which gives them an aura of not just being another pair of thugs off the street. That said, their track "purest lane" proves to be an exception, as it is a song about getting out of the ghetto armed with a rhyme to sell, a rap to work some sympathy.

Overall, as their fourth album and their major-label debut, I am not sure I agree with the literature that touts that they have achieved "consistent ground-breaking discography." If they are earth shattering because they hail from the Bay Area, then let the PR doctors spin, but if they claim to rattle for some other reason, than I would question the reading on the seismograph.