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Carlos Mena 

Hip-Hop Meditations

Wednesday, Jul 14 2004
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Spoken-word poetry and soul-searching lyrics aren't things your average bling 'n' booty hip hop fan wants gumming up his groove on a Friday night, but that doesn't discourage former 10 Bass T rapper Carlos Mena (aka Solrac) from sticking doggedly to a candle-and-incense vibe on his Bomb Hip Hop debut. When the jazzy production, Latin percussion, and heady rhymes click, as on "Nine Haikus" and "Walking in the Light," Mena ably updates the Last Poets' fiery brimstone-and-conga template with a mellow, spiritually minded twist; "God Is You" even goes so far as to recast the proto-rappers' empowerment anthem "Black Is" as an all-embracing universal love jam. The problem is that Hip-Hop Meditations, with its gauzy musical backdrops, often gets too damn meditative for its own good. And does the world really need another overwrought poetic tribute to John Coltrane? Hell no. Still, the dude deserves credit for ignoring commercial concerns and following his muse.

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Dave Pehling

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