Cee-lo, Nappy Roots, Old Dirty Bastard, Various Artists, N.E.R.D., and Blackalicious

Cee-lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz, The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones, Rewind!, In Search of…, and Blazing Arrow (Arista)

Phases and Stages

Beat Box

As the Texas summer starts wetting your upper lip, shade, Kool-Aid, and cool jams are chill. So, grab your towels, because Cee-Lo's new Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections (Arista) is "an entire ocean emotion that is enlightened to swim in." The current is a smooth, strenuous voice of a pint-sized dirty South reverend, spouting out sultry syncopated soliloquies regarding living, winning, sinning, and GOD. If swims aren't your thing, have some lemonade and the Nappy Roots' special plate, Watermelon, Chicken and Gritz (Atlantic). Decent food and good prices for the baller on a budget, because that's what this establishment is all about. Proving that all Southern crews aren't from Nawlins or Hot 'Lanta, Nappy Roots put Kentucky on the map with a humorous recanting of a country boy's life, filling the plate with nothing but posse cuts. Speaking of posses, Brooklyn's Ol' Dirty Bastard has been minus his while serving time for fleeing a drug rehabilitation center to join his Wu family on stage; he left this sporadically recorded fourth album in his place. With only three solo cuts ("Reunited," "Zoo Two," "C'Mon"), however, The Trial and Tribulations of Russell Jones (D3) can hardly be called his album. Forget the trip East, we'll just backtrack, not from behind bars, but from behind the old phonograph, turning up the A/C and Rewind! This new comp on Ubiquity brings it back, Cream, Pink Floyd, the Doors, and unlike Jay-Z's "Takeover" and misuse, this genre-bent compilation camouflages flagrant usage. On Rewind!, the "Re-worked, Remixed, Re-edited" remnants of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" can be Shinehead's Dub-Decadent Dread-Locked Beauty. Hot! Still, you can't hide inside forever. Flip a rock or two, and under one you just might find powerhouse producers the Neptunes, hiding like a bunch of N.E.R.D.s in a locker. That's what happens when two hip-hop producers senselessly attempt to crossover to "Rock Star" fame on their first full-length album, In Search Of... (Virgin). They should know better! Always breakers of the one-beat-per-sample-ethic, Search sounds as monotonous in rock as hip-hop. Lastly, there's nothing cooler then stealing the show, as an opener for a heavy hittin' lineup that included Talib Kweli and KRS-One, which is exactly what Blackalicious did at the Mercury two weeks ago. On Blazing Arrow (MCA), Gift of Gab and Chief XL add a cast to the bill to replace the average sample, flexing their major-label muscles. The extensive sound created is a compromise between spiritual and theatrical, but succeeds in being a chilled alternative to the large flat state of Hip-Hop, TX. Put your hands up, and Freeze!

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