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Mike Ladd: Negrophilia: The Album

With perhaps more concern for aesthetics than sales, Thirsty Ear continues to place rappers into jazz-band contexts. Following full-lengths by Antipop Consortium and El-P, Massachusetts mensch Mike Ladd hooks up with pianist Vijay Iyer, drummer Guillermo E. Brown, trumpeter Roy Campbell and others on Negrophilia: The Album. And an odd beast it is, too.

Known in underground-hip-hop circles for his sotto-voce and laid-back delivery, Ladd combines the world-weary pathos and caustic wisdom of Gil Scott-Heron, Tricky and Tom Waits, relating tragic-mulatto tales and leftist social commentary in a memorable manner.

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