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[Off The Record]
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Dr. Israel
BLACK ROSE LIBERATION
(BARAKA FOUNDATION)

Brooklyn-based singer/producer Dr. Israel isnít a real MD, but he deserves an honorary degree in alchemy for his crafty synthesis of roots reggae, frenetic jungle rhythms, gritty New York hip-hop, and the occasional rattling metal riff. The good doctor has been promoting his musical Frankenstein since the mid í90s, but his latest album still bristles with the earnest agit-prop and idealistic radicalism of a fresh-faced activist. " Politicians have clearly been taking a toll on me/Iím discouraged because they encourage brutality, " he sings on " Black Rose Liberation, " a rollicking ragga-jungle cut that namechecks Malcolm X, Jesus Christ, and Che Guevara.

Along with his loose crew of musicians, the Brooklyn Jungle Sound System, Dr. Israel creates a cross-genre hybrid that retains the vital energy of each element. He rails against Babylon and praises ganja like a committed roots reggae singer while MCs spit out complex wordplay and ghetto realism thatís tough enough for indie-rap heads. At the same time, hyperkinetic breakbeats glide underneath gospel harmonies and dub rimshots echo around the room. Itís a post-rave, indie-hop, dubcore mash-up that would be equally at home at a West Indian street fair and a Noam Chomsky reading group.

BY MICHAEL ENDELMAN

Issue Date: August 2 - 9, 2001





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