A.G.

Get Dirty Radio
(Look Records)

A chichi San Francisco condo is about the last place in the world you'd expect to find the Patterson projects-raised Andre the Giant (a.k.a. A.G.), an MC whose sense of rootedness in New York's South Bronx makes him seem as staunchly parochial as the average Crestside hyphy rapper. Yet A.G.'s 2002 sojourn in a crib rented by San Francisco's Look Records proved a salutary experience for this former member of New York's Diggin' in the Crates (DITC) crew. It resulted in the truly excellent Get Dirty Radio — one of Look's best albums to date. A.G. evidently knows how to channel his short-guy complex into hip-hop braggadocio. He doesn't so much inhabit a track as smear himself all over it: Lines like "Niggas say we real 'cause the way we got down/From the streets to the industry locked down/Plot now on the world that's the next stop/Ladies listen 'cause I'm known to hit the wet spot" (from the album's first number, "Frozen") seem completely truthful and heartfelt — as though there's almost no disconnect between A.G.'s regular-world identity and his stage persona. Even the more sentimental track "Love" — which features a gorgeous beat by Oh No, who is obviously capable of the most avant-garde shit ever, but manages to restrain himself — still sounds thorny, uncompromising, and tough enough to be believed. In a recent phone interview, A.G. says he appreciates the time he spent in California writing rhymes and reflecting on what it takes to survive. He managed to recoup his humanism and his soul. Both shine through on Get Dirty Radio.
 
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