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Cunninglynguists – A Piece of Strange

Continuing to redefine what it means to be a rap group from the South, the critically-acknowledged duo known as Cunninglynguists has dropped their third release, A Piece of Strange, on LA Underground Entertainment. Prior releases, Will Rap for Food and Southernunderground (Featuring rapper SOS), were merely introductions that set the stage for the latest powerhouse album. Produced entirely by Kno (whom URB magazine has described as “one of the top loop-miners east of the Mississippi”), the work is a loosely approached concept album, according to press materials. Having already worked with some of independent rap musics elite—including Masta Ace and Supastition, the new album includes guest spots from Cee-Lo, Immortal Technique, and producer/singer/MC Tonedeff, as well as Kentucky rapper Natti (who appears on seven of the 15 tracks).


This is no light-weight project.

“America Loves Gangsters,” with its grimy bass-guitar backbone and airy female vocals, sounds like a lost Goodie Mob track, while “Never Know Why (with Immortal Technique)” offers poignant words over a melancholy track replete with choral humms, wayward keys and a Kanye-styled sped up singing hook. The opening track, “Since When” blasts out of the speakers with knocking boom bap and urgent synths to highlight rhymes that are meant to let you know that the South is more than just the music its rappers ride on; there’s cats with flow down below, too! The horns and sparse drums of “Braincell” offer a glimpse into the darker side of life in America, with the sampled snippet “living in a world no different from a cell” punctuating their thoughts.

Boasting strong rhymes, melodic and gospel-tinged beats, and sprinkles of live instrumentation coupled with on-point samples, the duo of Deacon The Villain and Kno set out to recapture “the soul in southern hip hop,” as well as offering music that reminds you why you got into hip-hop in the first place. If the movie Brown Sugar was made today, they would have to include a cameo or mention of Cunninglynguists somewhere. Now you should too. No rap collection is complete without at least one of their albums.


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