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Diverse
ONE A.M
(Chocolate Industries)
Stars graphics

This Chicago MCís debut album was overlooked by the "overground" when it dropped in late summer, but that just makes it one more hidden bend in an underground hip-hop stream that hasnít flowed this smooth and strong in years. As with too many hip-hop debuts, the subject isnít who Diverse is so much as who he knows. That includes guest MCs like Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox, who helps land "Big Game," and the amazing Jean Grae, whose steely anger nails "Under the Hammer." But mostly it means a series of great young producers who are helping to eliminate the distinction between "under" and "over" with their daring yet infectious soul-rock grooves.

Like so many underground rappers, Diverse himself is quick, smooth, and tricky, often flashing the kind of ersatz-academic verbosity thatís mistaken for "poetry." "Ready to dance under the pale moonlight/Youíll soon find what youíre dealing with significantly certified" goes the chorus to the opening "Certified," but scansion hardly matters when the unstoppable RJD2 (Columbus, Ohio, is blowing up!) hooks the words around a fuzzy blues-guitar riff that lives up to the opening promise: "Weíd like to take you a little bit higher with a little . . . black . . . ROCK!"

BY FRANKLIN SOULTS


Issue Date: November 28 - December 4, 2003
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