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BaSheBa Earth

Don't limit BaSheBa Earth by calling her a rapper. The woman born Portia Davis is also a fashion designer and a performance artist, not to mention a lyricist with a lot more on her mind than the average rhymer. Mothership runs on consciousness, and thanks to Davis' passion and commitment, the journey is well worth taking. When the music calls for her to spit, as it does on "Different Type" and "Bladez of Tongue" — the latter distinguished by an appearance from Public Enemy vet Chuck D — Davis acquits herself well. But she's at her best on the likes of "What's the Use," a track that lets her blend recitation with soulful vocalizing. Ms. Earth's words, meanwhile, delve into unexpected subject areas. On "Miked," for instance, she purrs about "a people together, creating unified wealth," plus "services" and "preventive care." It takes a lot of style to pull off something like that. Fortunately, she has plenty to spare.

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