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Subtropical Spin

Coming from South Florida, where good times are the highest priority, Seven Star's serious, studied commitment to hip-hop culture stands out. You can hear the weight of dedication in his sober, workmanlike My Mother and Father Were Astronauts, a compilation of b-sides and 12-inch singles meant to prelude the MC's upcoming release. Astronauts is a far cry from most radio rap -- crunk it ain't. But the drowsy, blue beats from producer Manuvers are endemic to certain Miami circles; you can find the same melancholy sound on other Manuvers projects (Afluenza), as well as recent recordings by Algorithm (Dawn of a New Error) and Seth P. Brundel (Devil's Pawn). Here, they emerge in the form of sampled Rhodes keyboards carefully overlaid on "Intro for John" and skittering drums and pianos looped so tightly that "Avatar" bangs like a DJ Premier track but with none of the latter's noise or hiss.

Together, Seven Star and Manuvers have recorded an album that flutters along like a cold, sharp breeze on an overcast day. On "Alice," Seven Star recites what amounts to a breakup letter to his mother, whom he charges with abandoning him and having "no respect for me." On "An Error's End," he asserts, "I'm from the place where the grass is green but the pollution is unseen." How did Seven Star become so thoughtful and intense in a place known for frivolity? Maybe it's something in the water.

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Mosi Reeves

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