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FILE UNDER: Shaman Work Press

Hip-Hop as a culture isn't known, either by its active participants or outside observers, for an abundance of hugging. Oh sure, physical contact of every stripe, from violent altercations to illicit sexual encounters, have been given microphone-time by countless emcees over the years. But how often does the word "hug" pop up in a rhyme?

Despite what those statistics might show (and I'm far too lazy to produce such statistics myself) the real truth is that there's a lot more hugging going on in the Hip-Hop community than all those rappers are letting on. One of my mom's most cherished memories was receiving a giant bear-hug from Flavor Flav of Public Enemy back in the day. And I myself have in fact hugged my fair share of rappers over the years.

Granted, the most common sort of Hip-Hop hug is the uber-manly, one-armed, back-slap-while-gripping-fists variety which the participants would probably be too embarrassed to even admit was a hug. But I'm calling shenanigans on all that macho bullshit right now because I know a hug when I see one goddammit. So you can save your "no-homos" for somebody else.

Carlos Nino & Lil' Sci (What's the Science?) 'Elevation'. Former Scienz of Life frontman Lil' Sci knows that Hip-Hop culture needs hugs way more than another "party like a Rockstar" incitation, and that mainstream culture could probably benefit from the wholesome, nurturing embrace of positive Hip-Hop too. So, heeding the sampled vocal intro which states "the music is the only way you can do that," Sci quotes K.M.D. leader Zev Love X from "Figure of Speech" by way of a hook for "Love, Hugs, and Hip-Hop Soul," the jumpoff track from Elevation, the new album from What's the Science?, his and Carlos Nino's new collaborative effort.

Built on an uptempo clatter of drums, percussion and claps accented by a tangle of violins & synths and twined with pulses of undulant upright bass, "Love, Hugs, and Hip-Hop Soul" finds Sci citing classic Hip-Hop lyrics and proclaiming Hip-Hop's near divine power for inspiring positive change like Erykah Badu on "The Healer." And the song's lyrical juxtaposition of Hip-Hop purist philosophy and progressive social policy is mirrored in the production's balance between dusty, bass-heavy beats, Jazz and avant-garde experimentalism is a handy encapsulation of what the duo has in store for listeners on the remainder of the album.

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