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Night Life

...rarely have naked ambition and creative skill meshed so neatly...

Night Life

8 / 10 There's no pretence otherwise - this time it really is all about the benjamins. Their photo might show dreads, snarls and raised fists, but really Outsidaz have got their noses pressed up against the window of rap, looking jealously at the glittering prizes within. They're not shy about admitting it, either - with a song called 'Money, Money, Money' and a main thrust which equates to 'sell more records than the Spice bitches'.

/img/outsidaz0500.jpg, might not be strictly true, but they're also more than mere idle braggadocio. Instead, on an album which - almost uniquely for hip-hop - lasts just 28 minutes and contains no pointless skits, ill-conceived tracks or flabby makeweights, it's a vindication of taut, tense rap.

They haven't done it the easy way either - not for them the automatic bonanza of easy gangster posturing. Instead they rely on the blunt beats of hardcore and - with at least nine of them involved, the pick being the authoritative boom of Pace Won - some highly complex, scabrously funny, wordplay. So 'Don't Look Now' sees them predicting big fame - again - to the sound of salacious horns, while 'Night Life' itself features off-key singing and spookily tripping atmospherics like a cross between deep regret and preparation for war. But perhaps the greatest tribute is that when old mucker Eminem is invited back for the group hug 'Rush Ya Clique', his trademark ebullience doesn't overpower everyone else.

On this form, coupled with their disparate vocal styles and proven track record for launching solo careers, Outsidaz might even spawn their own Wu-style dynasty. Because rarely have naked ambition and creative skill meshed so neatly. It might manufacture a perverse dichotomy with their name, but their place on the inside seems assured.

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