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With his sophomore release, Santa Cruz MC Proe proves conclusively that all music is hip-hop if you just spin it right. Fresh and untainted at 20 years old, Proe fits squarely into the hip-hop generation, which was born into a world where everything from hard rock to doo-wop can bounce, given a good break beat. Perfect is a brilliant rock-rap hybrid that transfuses the earnest, palpitating roots of both forms into something surprisingly intelligent and original. Proe busts out of the gate hard and heavy over fuzzy psych guitar and a minimalist beat with "The Prelude" and "Big Step Little Step" but quickly eases back into dusty soul samples and vintage beats. The entire midsection of the album feels like golden oldies rap: "Always Something New" rises with sunny, Supremes-like backing vocals and a simple, laid-back piano figure and finger snaps, while "Why Are You Here" revolves around what sounds like a sampled work chant and a wicked guitar line. Like a West Coast connection between Jay-Z, Slug, and Eminem, Proe stays lyrically smart and smartass, his flow relaxed and confident. One complaint, and it's a weak one: At 19 tracks and close to 80 minutes, Perfect is almost too perfect. It's a lot to digest, Proe. Save something for next time.
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Jonathan Zwickel

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