It has been 10 years since hip-hop duo, Blackalicious released their last album The Craft. Now, more than a decade later, lyricist Gift of Gab and producer Chief Xcel return with Imani Vol. I.
“Blackalicious never broke up,” Gift of Gab told Exclaim! in January,”we just wanted to do things as individuals.”
Working seperately at the time, an unfortunate situation soon brought the duo back together. In 2012, Gift of Gab suffered from kidney failure and later underwent a successful transplant.
Gab said that the experience was “something that’s fuelled the album, and fuelled my career—both of our careers!”
Named for the Swahili word meaning “faith,” Imani Vol. I doesn’t skip a beat, delivering the bare bones of their classic Blackalicious hip-hop sound. Chief Xcel delivers the perfect amount of funk and soul, and Gift of Gab’s lyrics are so poignant and gripping, it leaves you wanting more.
And, good news, more is on the way. Imani Vol. I is only the first of the group’s plans for a three-album trilogy.
For those who haven’t heard Blackalicious before, the first single “On Fire Tonight” is the perfect place to start. Easily the most radio-friendly cut off the album, the track features the soulful sound of Myron Glasper, from the hip-hop duo Myron & E, over the horn-infused hook.
Spitting a bevy of complex rhymes over a simple beat, Gift of Gab shows that his flow is still unparallel to any other rapper around with “The Blowup,” an instant classic among Blackalicious fans.
Not so ironically, the album also features songstress Imani Coppola, who lends her vocals on the song, “The Sun.”
Blackalicious proves that some artists sound even better with age. It will be certainly be interesting to see what the duo—who have only released three full-length albums since 1999—have in store for Volume II.