- The Perceptionists
At a time when political hip-hop too often suggests being shouted down by the neighborhood vagrant/conspiracy nut, the Perceptionists' debut has potential bipartisan appeal. On Black Dialogue, Boston's most celebrated current MC, Mr. Lif (in tandem with Akrobatik and DJ Fakts One), leads the new trio through a series of verses that don't skimp on hard-hitting topicality, as the anti-war "Memorial Day" attests.
But the disc is also rooted in old-school positivity instead of the sour sounds of today's underground, with bright, sharp beats offering the promise of party time alongside the political rhymes. (Even Def Jux overlord El-P emerges from his usual aural labyrinth to contribute a funky groove on "People 4 Prez.") Guest Shock-G -- a conscious MC who never forgot to have fun -- offers perhaps the best example of the aesthetic the Perceptionists seem to be shooting for. Their Black Dialogue is the way rappers used to talk about politics, back when they talked instead of hectored and realized you could catch more flies with honey. Now that's perceptive. <