Lightheaded

Wrong Way
(Tres Records)

As an underground hip-hop group from Portland, Oregon, Lightheaded wouldn't be expected to rap about pimping bitches, but this trio's subject matter is noticeably clean-cut. Wrong Way, its second album and first since 2001's Pure Thoughts, features songs about trying to be a better husband ("Eye to Eye"), testimonials about serving Christ ("Afraid of the Dark" and "Speak Your Peace"), and the power of positive thinking and living. Braille, Othello, and producer Ohmega Watts think that hip-hop culture can transform lives completely, and not just financially. It's a disarmingly sweet but dangerously corny idea that isn't helped by Watts' beats, which are smart and funky but clearly cut from the same "true school" blueprint that hundreds of other backpack groups use. Nevertheless, Wrong Way succeeds because Lightheaded is so passionate about its good music, which "takes you everywhere except the wrong way."
 
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