We hear about her influences (Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte) on "Higher," a more gentle piece, with lots of keyboard chimes and splash cymbal, and how "intelligence is beauty/irrelevance is booty," but you'll hear more Q-Tip and Eminem in her delivery than any of those gals who dip into R&B. Cam Groves and Spose do more singing than Lady E, that's for sure.

Really, the farther she gets from classic bangers the less I like it. "What I'm Feelin'" has a nice groove to it, with a backing like steel drums and a tub bass, and the way the lyrics pour out, first singled then doubled, makes for good flow, but the indecisiveness ruined the vibe for me: "What do I feel?/How do I feel it?/Is it real or a lie?"

I can only get with the split-personality thing for so long. Are you going to punch me in the face or cry on my shoulder?

In the end, though, Essence knows what's what. The 8-bit digital maelstrom of "Everybody Got a Method" has her as edgy and bitter as anything on the record, a reflection of the hard shell she's adopted to get through life. It may be unfortunate she had to don that tough exterior, but it's the source of her fire and the spark you just can't turn away from.

"Trying to keep me passion controlled," she raps, "I know I get loud."

No, no. Let's hear you louder still.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached atsam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

RIGHT NOW | Released by Lady Essence, on PDank Entertainment | with Antiseptic + Mouth Washington + Sandbag + Educated Advocates | at Asylum, in Portland | August 27 | facebook.com/Essencehiphop

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  Topics: CD Reviews , Sexism, hip-hop, WOMEN,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL  |  April 23, 2014
    He returns to town next week with Underwater Dream in tow, a new album of eight songs that sound like they’ve been chiseled from marble, wood-shedded, and revised until they’re right where Bettencourt wants them.
  •   ME AND MY GRANDMA  |  April 17, 2014
    There’s no question that Rob Schreiber’s Standard Issue play the hits.
  •   SO LONG, SLAINTE  |  April 16, 2014
    Why would so many lament a little venue with sightlines that make Fenway Park look wide open?
  •   THE INVINCIBLE OLAS  |  April 09, 2014
    The band have newly created Cada Nueva Ola , as rollicking as any family dinner table.
  •   DIGGING UP THE PAST  |  April 04, 2014
    Now Tumbling Bones have followed Ghost’s release earlier this year with a full-length debut of their own, equally impressive in its construction and execution.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE