33rd Street Records

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Yuns is delivering a radically different flavor to hip-hop, one with an emphasis on enjoying life to its fullest, but not through drugs or violence. Yes, there are less extreme rap artists out there — Will Smith probably being the safest — but they’re not aiming for the streetwise cred that Yuns is seeking here. And he certainly gets it, too. The laid-back acoustic guitar that propels the opening cut, “Hold My Head High,” makes a statement: This is not your ordinary hip-hop album.

While it’s true that Everlast was also a white rapper, like Yuns, who combined a folksy sensibility with hip-hop, he was more blues than rap. That’s not the same with Yuns. This is a hip-hop record, folks, not some weirdo Beck experiment.

As with many contemporary rap albums, this LP has its share of guests, the most artistically pleasing being Tiffany Wilson, whose sweet R&B cooing adds a palpable sensuality to these tracks, namely the stunningly pretty “Breathe & Stop” and “All of Me.” The production is slick enough for radio but not too tame for the underground. Yuns is doing a balancing act here, shouldering the worlds of indie hip-hop and commercial rap, finding the line between cutting edge and mass acceptance. It’s a courageous move, especially for somebody so young and virtually unknown.


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