(Quannum) On Fourth Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, Blackalicious rapper Gift of Gab floats through his own inner galaxy, paying homage to past pop glories in the hope of ascending into the future. Seattle producers Jake One and Vitamin D lace him up with beats that are supple and funky, bumping along with an early '80s bass vibe; "Welcome Back" is decorated with '70s soul orchestral strings, and "The Writz" successfully appropriates Irving Berlin's classic '20s show tune.
But can one survive in zero gravity on hip-hop tracks and a conscience? It turns out that interstellar space travel is merely a ruse to present the same topics Blackalicious fans are well familiar with: true love, wack rappers, and detailed autobiography. Gift of Gab renders his observations with aplomb and impressively advanced rap skills, over tracks that sound less saccharine than his group's recent Blazing Arrow. But what would interstellar hip-hop sound like without such earthly concerns? The Secret Life of Plants? The Gift of Gab enjoys flying amid the stars, but it's probably just as nice for him to eventually return home. -- Mosi Reeves