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Blue Scholars, ‘Bayani’ (Massline/ Rawkus)

On their second full-length, Seattle’s Blue Scholars try to promote hip-hop’s potential for personal transformation and political change, dedicating songs to soldiers in Iraq (“Back Home”) and protesters at the 1999 WTO demonstrations (“50 Thousand Deep”). Referencing brown rice and embattled working-class communities in equal dollops, the provocative lyrics of soft-spoken yet persistent MC Geologic don’t always match up with DJ/producer Sabzi’s rangy keyboard-and-bass beats. But when Sabzi creates a musical backdrop worthy of his partner’s insights, like on the neo-G-funk of “Loyalty,” the results are sublime.

Now Hear This: Blue Scholars – “North by Northwest” DOWNLOAD MP3