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Black One: "Rosemont" 

Black One is currently exiled in Phoenix but the rapper is from Tucson. After the compelling, commercially-oriented 2013 effort "Block House," Black One comes home for his new record "Rosemont," ostensibly the soundtrack to a semi-autobiographical short story of the same name. Each song correlates to a particular chapter, with the clever and evocative period-correct production matching the lyrical content.

Black One is not the most nimble emcee to ever pick up a microphone, nor is he the most lyrically complex. What he does have in excess is copious amounts of personality that make these stories come to life and leap off the grooves.

If it sounds incongruous to namecheck Malcolm X while gleefully shouting that he doesn't "want to be normal" on "Rosemont"'s opening track and immediately following the statement up with the self-explanatory club thumper "No Worries," it is: These "chapters" don't follow a linear storyline; they're snapshots of Black One's memories. Like anyone's autobiography, the facts are filtered through the author's own, non-objective lenses. And that's why when an ancient 50 Cent line is quoted verbatim with the original syntax and phrasing in "F*ck Gravity," it's hardly a bite in the classic use of hip-hop terminology—it's yet another hazy flashback of "Rosemont."

While the music tracks of "Rosemont" are admirably varied, it's a little unclear if the production is a calculated ploy to be something for everyone, ranging from the radio-ready trap-ish "Blast Off" to the golden age old school rock guitar of "Normal," but, again, it's important to view these as fragmented glimpses from one man's brain, and the gospel-informed highlight "Howlazuah" is good enough for the intentions to not matter.

More by Joshua Levine

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