Kilo Ali: Organized Bass

Kilo Ali
Organized Bass

WHEN IT COMES to chauvinism, bass makes reggae or the blues seem positively open-minded in more ways than one. It's been a strictly booty-bumpin', woofer-thumpin', hottie-humpin' scene since Luther Campbell and his 2 Live Crew simultaneously landed in the courts and on the charts in the late '80s. And despite a few nationwide hits like "Whoot (There It Is)," "Tootsie Roll," and "C'Mon And Ride It (Take the Train)," bass has always been a regional music. It's made by and for folks from the Southeast (copycat bass hits from Northern artists, such as Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" or LL Cool J's "Goin' Back To Cali," didn't even call themselves bass). But it is also a region where Bible Belt morality and an R&B renaissance (around "Hot 'Lanta") are thriving, two things you wouldn't know by listening to the Quad City DJ's or 95 South.

On Organized Bass, Kilo Ali creates a space where bass, the Bible, and the brethren of Babyface can all be accommodated, a perennially tortured but ultimately liberating endeavor. Well past the point of having to prove his bass bona fides (this is his sixth CD), Kilo has enlisted the aid of Atlanta-based Organized Noize, an evocative production crew whose gossamer sheen and liquid grooves have enhanced the work of Goodie Mob, En Vogue, and Toni Braxton, among others. Just like that, the numbing thump of bass's perpetual pulse finds new musical and philosophical terrain. "Baby, Baby" is bass in a dreamscape, like a baby's heartbeat swathed in the womb. "Save Me" goes right through the church and out to the riverbank for a baptism romp complete with a chunky sample of Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" and an eight-member backup choir. "Lost Y'All Mind" features some pensive guitar noodling over what could be an Ennio Morricone soundtrack: It's deep-fried chicken on a spaghetti western, while Kilo trips over the evils of racism and black-on-black violence.

For the stone bass-lovers, all is not lost. "Show Me Love" and "Bottom to the Top" are both in the tradition, and "Organized Noize," featuring Cee-Lo of the Goodie Mob, has got the hypnotic repetition of the genre down pleasurably pat. There's also the requisite sexual blatancy of "Love In Ya Mouth," with Outkast's Big Boi as guest rapper. And when luminary George Clinton stops by on "Loot Chi Chi," the P-Funk is consigned to the trunk, as bass holds the wheel. Nevertheless, anyone who has listened to bass knows it can be all wound up; Organized Bass simply gives it new places to roll.

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