Info-Red

Kaleidoscope (Self-released)

Electrifying battle rapper Info-Red opens his sophomore effort with "Who am I," a flute-driven melody that sounds like the opening of a hip-hop kung fu flick. Almost as if answering his own question, a refrain echoes "incredible," immediately setting the tone for the rest of the album.

And Kaleidoscope covers all of the bases: introspection with "The Ghetto," punchlines and zingers with "Attention Please," and raw intensity on "Five Star Generals." "What I'm Writing For," meanwhile, seems guaranteed to rock any venue in which it's played—cars, house parties, the stage. The scratching, vocal samples and melody blend to come together with a DJ Premier-esque value, and Info-Red doesn't disappoint. His motivations for rhyming vary from honoring Big Pun and Jam Master Jay to making his family proud to the sheer enjoyment of slaying other rappers.

The best thing about this effort is that Info-Red knows what works, and with its mid-'90s East Coast feel (a very good thing), Kaleidoscope proves that Info-Red's just as impressive off-stage as he is on.

 
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