Street Music

Artist: DefariTitle: Street MusicRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne

West Coast vet and Likwit emcee Defari comes full circle with a back-to-basics return to the level his fans have been asking for since his debut, Focused Daily. Street Music (ABB Records) is just what the title says, tailor-made not only for Cali blocks but for sidewalks worldwide.

The mixture of production by all-stars Alchemist, Evidence, DJ Babu, E-Swift and Mike City with Defari's famed lyrical "spittery" makes for a result heads can't even be mad at this time around. Fire is displayed on the lead single, "Make My Own", where Alchemist, as usual, comes through with a soulful head-nodder where Defari spits about his accomplishments and how only he controls his fate in life and the rap game. In a switch to a double-speed flow, Defari lets everyone know that he comes in both "Peace and Gangsta", and to demonstrate that paradox he'll, Shake ya hand and shank ya.

And what would a Defari album be without a visit from fellow Likwit emcees? J Ro of the Alkaholiks pops in on two songs along with cameos by Dilated Peoples. Other guests include Deadly Threat, B-Real, Tuffy from Channel Live and Boo Kapone.

Production wise, "Clowns" stands out from everything else with its smooth blend of Frank Sinatra's version of the classic "Send In the Clowns" and snippets of Mobb Deep, Rakim, KRS, Special Ed and Run-DMC over a snapping snare hit. Featuring Dilated Peoples, the song is a pointed observation of how the industry is full of Bozos and perpetrators; outing them with lines like: Rappers are actors that play the part/On a video a gangsta/ In the streets a mark. Following is the official "The Bizness", where Defari goes all out with the crisp "spittery" over a high-pitched horn and a looped vocal chant: You n*ggas got pipe dreams f*cking with the mic king/You better off easing the pain with the vicodine.

It's been a minute since Defari dropped a full-length treat and it's nice to hear that unlike many artists, he actually took heed to what his fan base wanted, offering what he refers to as a "steroid" album; juiced up until maximum results are achieved. This is one legal and welcomed way to get a hit.