All Tomorrow's Parties

After 12 years on the fringes of pop, hip hop, and techno, Jungle Brothers crash all three with V.I.P.

Fittingly, the album's only real weakness is slackness--in the non-Jamaican sense, that is. It's easy to become spoiled by Mos Def's Brooklynese poetics and Gift of Gab's alliteration. But lines like "Come into the spot/Get it hot/Come and turn it up/So I can rock" or "Music is the key to make your body rock/24-seven/Around the clock" make you wonder if Bam and G are really trying. Fortunately, there are plenty of moments up to the standard of "Down With the JBeez," with its extended a cappella stanza and Run-D.M.C.-style lyric-trading (with guests Black Eyed Peas). The album's best material makes head-bobbing feel as natural as eye-blinking.

Easy riders: Afrika Baby Bam and Mike G of the Jungle Brothers
Easy riders: Afrika Baby Bam and Mike G of the Jungle Brothers

Perhaps this is the musical middle ground between "I'll House You" and what Crazy Wisdom Masters might have been. "Strictly Dedicated" nods to the streets, but the Jungle Brothers' target audience seems to include damn near everybody. Tangling the lines between hip hop and blues and dance and soul, the album adds each new listener to its extended guest list until the party extends out to an ever-widening horizon.

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