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The Knux, "Remind Me in 3 Days" (Interscope) [3.5 OUT OF 4 STARS]

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A sibling duo forced to relocate from New Orleans to Los Angeles in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Kintrell "Krispy Kream" and Alvin "Rah Almillio" Lindsey, aka the Knux, have been pegged along with fellow travelers such as Chicago's Cool Kids and Kidz in the Hall as part of a new school of "meta-rap" devoted to self-consciously reviving the sounds of hip-hop's pre-gangsta-domination "golden era" in the late '80s and early '90s, not unlike any of rock's numerous garage revivals emulating the fabled "Nuggets" period. But the retro nods to vintage fashion like Adidas and gold chains or a particular fondness for now-antique drum machine sounds are superficial trappings, and on its debut album, the much deeper inspiration that the Knux takes from heroes such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, the Beastie Boys of "Paul's Boutique" and early Outkast is the wildly adventurous disregard of genre boundaries, a wide-open spirit of invention and playful imagination and uniquely psychedelic love of sound for sound's sake.

The brothers' instrumental and production talents are much more impressive than their rapping--Krispy Kream has a particularly annoying quirk of introducing himself before almost every rhyme he spins--but their sheer exuberance and unashamed dedication to being their geeky selves carries the day. (Few and far between are the rappers brave enough to make a Starbucks metaphor of their sexual desires, yet here's the Knux repeatedly telling us, "I need a fresh cappuccino with a mocha twist/Fresh fresh cappuccino with a mocha twist/Hey, hey, miss!" in the breakthrough single "Cappuccino.") And despite a few missteps--chief among them "Pea Knuckle," a shallow skit starring a vulgar British drug dealer--the intoxicating and always surprising collages of gurgling analog synths, classic-rock guitar riffs, clattering percussion, lovably cheesy beat-box grooves, gleefully melodic hooks, gonzo sound effects, Valley Girl voiceovers and a thousand other ingredients (plus the kitchen sink) all combine to mark "Remind Me in 3 Days" as one of the most joyful and refreshing hip-hop debuts of the new millennium.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on November 11, 2008 4:00 PM.

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