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Chapman Bachler

Chocolate Supa Highway

Home was the quintessential record of 1995. It blended rhymes, beats, consciousness, soul and hip-hop poetry in one tight package. Chocolate Supa Highway is a well-paved sequel that allows more R&B and dreamy strings to merge into the heavy traffic. "Get Lifted" would sound like a TLC track if it weren't for vocalist Michael Franti's basso profundo. He allows his booming voice to soften for some intense Maxwell-style smooch music on "U Can't Sing R Song" and "Comin' to Gitcha," a primordial slow jam with Zap Mama's Marie Daulne. The CD really takes off when Spearhead rolls into emotional, storytelling territory. "Why, Oh Why" is an honorable tribute to Franti's schoolyard basketball pals. "Life Sentence," "Tha Payroll," "Gas Gauge" and a stunning, restrained version of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy track "Water Pistol Man" are the other standouts. The sound has changed somewhat, but the knowledge and honesty remain intact. (Todd S. Inoue)

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The Simpsons
Songs in the Key of Springfield

The Simpsons has always been a cartoon geared for adults and so is this brilliant collection of tunes culled from the brilliant series. It's not likely that kids will tumble over laughing to the "Stop the Planet of the Apes" musical starring Troy McClure, but adults with good memories will appreciate the satire. A lot of pros chip in: Beverly D'Angelo ("Bagged Me a Homer"), Tony Bennett ("Capitol City"), Michael Jackson ("Happy Birthday, Lisa"), Jack Sheldon ("The Amendment Song") and Tito Puente ("Señor Burns"). Songs in the Key of Springfield also contains numerous production numbers from the show, lots of dialogue, and several variations of the opening and closing music for the show. This CD has got it all for the hard-core fan--the antidote for dull road trips or stale answering-machine messages. (Todd S. Inoue)

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Cutty Ranks
Six Million Ways to Die

The CD jacket tells much of the story. Against a dark background is a profile of ragga star Cutty Ranks. Protruding from his right cheek like a fleshy mountain range is an ugly scar, obviously the work of a switchblade. Raggamuffin, the Jamaican version of gangsta rap, is riven with violent imagery; not for nothing is Cutty Ranks' joint titled Six Million Ways to Die. "Undertaker," "Hit Man" and "One Gun Two Gun" are not the sort of stuff you wanna knock boots to. Of all the "Ranks" out there, from Shabba on down the line, Cutty is perhaps the most listenable; like his brethren, Cutty exults in a rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat vocal delivery--forget the melody. Jamming with the likes of drummer/arranger/songwriter Sly Dunbar certainly doesn't hurt his sonic hit-man potential. Guest Eddie Fitzroy's idiosyncratic vocal helps lift "Guiltiness" above the pedestrian; the two ought to consider working together more often. "Time to Die" flaunts an irresistible groove, whose ingredients include a wry baritone sax, burbling synths and, above all else, Cutty's sharp tongue. (Nicky Baxter)

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From the March 20-26, 1997 issue of Metro

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