The answer, for the most part, is yes. Clean Gloves is the sound of a couple of seriously insightful rappers peeling open their skulls and letting loose their demons over a minimalist soundtrack of bleak, razor-sharp tracks. Dirty Work shows instinctive cadence, almost rushing the beat but consistently arriving right on time, flexing more patience here than in his hectic live delivery. Through gritted teeth, he rants on the SoFla music scene and the wearying bullshit involved in a minimum-wage existence. Smith lays a little farther back in the cut but comes up front for the personal admission of "2/1," bringing to mind the bold confessionals of Minnesota's Atmosphere. Smudging digital into analog and vice versa, Palmeto is all scratchy fills and distilled ambience, showing heavy sequencing chops and compositional vision on the instrumental "The Cutting Room Floor." As is the case with a lot of DIY releases, the production rings a bit hollow and could use the studio heft that only major dollars can buy. The album also suffers a bit from its brevity; it feels more like a collection of viable outtakes than a cohesive statement. Still, Gloves bristles with creative energy and big ideas. Florida heads ought to sit up and take notice.
The Secondhand Outfit plays with Bleubird, Astronautilus, and PSM at 10 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Club M, 2037 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. The show is free. Call 954-920-6400.