All Natural : Second Nature

Sparky, good-natured Chicago hip-hop

As mission statements go, their name is perfect. Prissy guitar bores might tell us that no hip-hop is truly organic but, when rappers now sell themselves more like

Nike than musicians, expanding the brand with clothing, toy and film tie-ins,

All Natural are as close as it gets. They are, in rapper Capital D's words, "old skool, baby".

Their Chicago roots also mean they bypass being labelled West Coast, East Coast or even Deep South. This, then, is Mid-West

hip-hop. As embodied here on their second album, that means a cross between Eric B amp; Rakim and The Wu's belligerence. It's also backed up with an impressive array of samples and scratches from resident turntablist Tone B Nimble, which range from choppy piano on 'Ill Advisory' to the twirling, twinkling 'Godspeed' and broodingly cinematic 'Return Of The Avenger'. Even better, they're matched throughout by the imperious rhymes of Capital D, spouting ire, politics and, in the case of 'Chatham', an alternative Lonely Planet travelogue to a ravaged neighbourhood where "one block over it's like Vietnam".

Taking hip-hop back to furious public address system rather than coincidental building block in a mini-empire, All Natural are true to their name. Expect to hear more of it soon.

Jim Alexander
7 / 10

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