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Clear Blue Skies

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Artist: JuggaknotsTitle: Clear Blue SkiesRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: aqua boogie

Without putting out product in years the Juggaknots have still managed to obtain and maintain cult status in enlightened hip-hop circles. To simply label them backpack rappers would be a blatant injustice, as well as a corny and lazy description. Without ever sounding preachy or bitter at their subterranean status the Juggaknots simply create good hip-hop music, period. The Clear Blue Skies EP release was heard by relatively few due to its vinyl only format on Bobbito Garcia’s shuttered Fondle ‘Em Records. Luckily the heads over at Third Earth music are releasing a re-mastered version, which includes 11 new tracks for malnourished fans.

While beats on the airwaves nowadays are usually clean and simple, the beats on Clear Blue Skies maintain a gritty, demo like feel. Lyrics are what rule here and rhyme partners Buddy Slim and particularly, Breezly Brewin, come out the gate with SAT words, sharp metaphors and slick similes. Freestyle trained flows abound on tracks like “Who Makes it Hot” featuring Adagio and “Jive Talk.” The duo is at their best when their music is concept driven as on the title track where Breezy plays the role of a white emcee with jungle fever having a heated discussion with the bigoted pops role assumed by Buddy.

“Loosifa” is a somber tale about a victim of the hood trying to do right and is anchored by sleepy keys. Other notable cuts include “Trouble Man” which dissects John Coltrane’s version of ‘My Favorite Things’ and “You Gotta Do One of These Songs” where one liners like, “Competition best to wise up, I’m funkier than pussy that can make your bread rise up” are traded over reverberating drums.

At twenty songs deep the album will make those with short attention spans begin to fidget. Although the production is above average, many of the songs won’t have you craving for multiple listens and you can forget about radio play. But the Juggaknots are Boogie Down Bronx reppin’ b-boys at heart which is reflected in their music and Clear Blue Skies is definitely a refreshing option to the underground genre’s too common overcast gloom of late.

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