Here's an MC boast so frank it's hilarious: "In this corner, the undisputed champs of hip-hop--RJD2 on the beats, Blueprint on the rhymes--versus everything that sucks about music in the opposite corner." But it's no joke: Soul Position's second LP is a stone classic. It's not just that Blueprint is so damn sharp, conversational and in the pocket, though RJD2's honest funk confections could be trampled by a lesser MC. In Blueprint's hands, the brassy coke-spoon disco of "Priceless" makes an ironic backdrop for a message of lifestyle humility: "I got a '92 MPV, my radiator leaks, but at least it's mine," he raps. "You got a brand-new Range Rover, but it's rented, so you gotta have it back Monday morning at nine." With skeptical observations of human nature ("got some free love and ended up in the free clinic"), "I'm Free" is about 40 I.Q. points smarter than the two famous rock songs by the same name. By the time you get to the second to last track, "Drugs, Sex, Alcohol, Rock-n-roll," the album's cautionary tone does sound preachy. But if Things Go Better with RJ and AL isn't the hip-hop album of the year, it'll be one hell of a year.
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