Well Worth The Wait

Originally slated for a 1994 release, Bl_ck B_st_rds was shelved for six years after Elektra objected to the cover art and dropped KMD from their roster. Arriving on the heels of last year's excellent Operation Doomsday by M.F. Doom (previously KMD's Zev Luv X), this long-lost gem is finally seeing the light of day.

Fueled by ultra-funky, sample-heavy production and furiously original rhyme styles, this album picks up where KMD's 1991 debut Mr. Hood left off. Subroc and Zev throw down a dozen tracks loaded with freaky soundbites and seriously dope flows. One of those increasingly rare LPs that is consistently fresh from start to finish, this is 45 minutes of true hip-hop glory.

"What a Nigga Know?" (RealAudio excerpt) sports an outrageously plump bassline and eerie whistling loop, while the two MCs go off over truly rugged beats. If this doesn't get your head nodding, you must be paralyzed.

The two-part "Plumskinzz" (RealAudio excerpt) flips the same infectious piano sample as Rakim's "Keep the Beat" as KMD rock more ill lyrics relating females to assorted fruits.

Subroc flexes his impressive mic tactics on "It Sounded Like a Roc" (RealAudio excerpt) over another bumpin' bassline, clave-laden beats, and airy saxophone loops.

This record may remind you of classic Black Sheep or even Pharcyde joints, as KMD bring a similarly contagious blend of energy, humor and skills — a combination sorely lacking in much of today's hip-hop. Had this been released in 1994, KMD surely would've blown up. Six years later, Bl_ck B_st_rds remains a testament to their overflowing charisma and talent. This is a classic.