Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Soundbombing [Rawkus, 1997]
"You record label people gonna die and your family gonna die too motherfuckers." Far more eager than the militantly joyless Company Flow, far more songful than the secretly ambient Lyricist Lounge, this singles-plus showcase is "underground" hip hop's most convincing advertisement for itself. Reflection Eternal, a/k/a Black Star plus Mr. Man, add crowd samples and a chorus about Medina to an echoing guitar-piano hook, topping anything on Black Star's secretly smooth debut. Mos Def and Kweli freestyle with feeling. Company Flow give up their catchiest album track and devolve into the more complex Indelible MCs, who "keep tabs like Timothy Leary and/or ASCAP." And Ra the Rugged Man ("all information concerning Ra is currently unknown"), who swears he'll be into "this rap shit" "Till My Heart Stops," admits that actually he's "not succeedin' ": "They turn my mind state into evil 'cause I want everyone dead on this fuckin' earth/It really hurts/ 'Cause if music doesn't work I got nothing left to live for except dyin' in the poorhouse." Pray he returns on volume two. A-