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Prince Po

For a guy from South Queens, Prince Po -- formerly Prince Poetry of the influential '90s duo Organized Konfusion -- places himself in serious company when he gives shoutouts to Depeche Mode, Smashing Pumpkins, Pharrell Williams, Radiohead, Black Sabbath, Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beatles, and the Clash within the first two minutes of his debut solo record, The Slickness. Released on electro-juggernaut Warp's underground hip-hop imprint Lex, Po gets assistance from the likes of Danger Mouse (of Grey Album notoriety), Raekwon of WuTang, and even dance eminence grise Richard X, who works the smokin' single "Hold Dat."

Though an unlikely heavy-rotation candidate, The Slickness is memorable for its impressive collaboration, heavy-hitting content, clever rhymes, and hot throw-down beats.

Of course, nary a debut is flawless, and The Slickness is no exception. While Po primarily steers clear of the usual bling and booty, preferring the Mos Def-like social justice approach, baser issues still pop up on occasion, as on the comic overbooze-and-you-lose "Meet Me at the Bar" and the thuggishly titled "Grown Ass Man." Props to Po for a promising start. He lends credence to his own conviction that if "Hip-hop's under construction, Prince Po's the foreman." -- Kelly Shindler

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