Blackalicious

The Craft

[4] Back in indieland after a dalliance with the majors, Blackalicious’ Chief Xcel and Gift Of Gab have made the sort of hip-hop album most big labels still don’t know how to sell: smart, eclectically but authentically funky, and humane to boot. The fate of The Craft probably rests with the garage-rocking "Powers," which will either become this year’s "Hey Ya!" or the catchiest song no one hears in 2005. But it’s "The Fall And Rise Of Elliott Brown" and "Black Diamonds And Pearls"-two realistic but uplifting spins on ghetto life-that show what makes Blackalicious’ craft unique. (ANTI-) Dan LeRoy