Perceptionists | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Black Dialogue, the Perceptionists' debut full-length, is the most fluid and humane disc to emerge from the mass of futurist paranoia that is the Definitive Jux label. Faint praise, you say? What if I said that they can turn a chant like "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" into a jam that's harder and more fun than whatever your fave G-Unit soldier is currently muttering on B96? Each of the Boston hip-hop standouts in the trio--Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, and DJ Fakts One--is a strong solo artist, and their individual strengths complement each other like finely machined gears. Akrobatik's hook smarts add a visceral bite to Lif's politics, the precision of Lif's analyses inspires Akrobatik to focus his positivity, and though they call out head-nodders who "think you're too good to move your ass," the beats themselves--courtesy guest producer El-P--render the taunt irrelevant. Granted, anybody who invites dour Gang Starr MC Guru to guest on a track titled "Party Hard" has a broad definition of a good time, but their defense of what the title track dubs "the most imitated culture on this earth" adds a righteous note to their de rigueur critiques of mainstream hip-hop. Now that Mos Def has gone pro, the multicultural backpacker crowd needs more race men capable of lines as sharp as Lif's dis of rap videos: "My TV's always off 'cause I'll see something truly black then." Earatik Statik opens. Sat 2/12, 11:30 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at the door, 18+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.

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