Hip hop conspiracy theory No. 4,081 posits that beneath the ridiculously smooth breakbeats of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul are subliminal messages stating that mainstream hip hop is inherently doomed and the only way to save it is to reject the modern malaise and return to the golden age. That's the tack of local crew 75 Degrees. Whether remaking the classic Slick Rick track "Children's Story" or rejecting mainstream materialism on "Got Your Album," this sextet remains true to the indie code on the optimistically titled The Last Great Hip Hop Album. But 75 Degrees transcends the usual clichés by managing a unique, Bay Area spin. This album's production, which is largely comprised of live instrumentation, has the same stoned funk of vintage local hip hop, and on the cooing, lovelorn "Jesus Piece," MC Rick Bond proves that you don't have to be vulgar to be sexy. This isn't the last great hip hop album, but it is satisfying and manages to distinguish itself from the normal indie fare.
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