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CD Review: ReadNex Poetry Squad 

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Remember the scene in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing when Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) shows the camera the “LOVE” and “HATE” tattooed on his knuckles? Ig’nant listeners might hear hate in some lyrics on this Middletown crew’s debut CD, but a deeper listen draws out the tough love earned by these lyrical flowsters. Though they call themselves hip-hop poets, this is straight-ahead rap music, in the conscious diaspora of Eric B. + Rakim, X-Clan, or The Roots. Each vocalist adds their own flavor and insights, notably lady rapper FreeFlowin’, on the reggae cut “Calles,” and Decora, who spits over guitar-based hard rock on “Youth”; smooth Latin flavor carries the message from Cuttz El Colombiano and Latin Translator on “Amor de Rosas.”
These 13 fresh tracks were produced by Graham at Newstreet Studios in Middletown, with new upstate flavor that is totally listenable. On top of the righteous raps, Graham’s range of rhythms is off the map, pairing sweet samples with beats and loops that jump from hip-hop to classical guitar to electro-dance (“Ghetto”). Not jaded or faded, the ReadNex members’ collective styles kick strictly a positive message of healing, unity, forgiveness, and love. ReadNex Poetry Squad will perform at the Chronogram.com Web launch party on January 12. Details at www.chronogram.com.

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