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Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006 08:24 pm

Vinyl Static

Scissor Sister’s Ta-Dah; Lupe’s Food & Liquor

SINGLES ONLY
The flashy Scissor Sisters released their debut in a blaze of glitter and poppy piano parts, but who knew the fabulously retro New York quintet could strike gold twice? The first single, “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” from the group’s sophomore effort, Ta-Dah, channels Elton John’s piano-based pop, the pomp of Queen, and the eerily elevated vocals of the brothers Gibb. Don’t be fooled by the pageantry, though, because the Sisters aren’t your typical throwback; they juggle the roles of pop balladeers and electro-rockers well. It’s disco, and we like it. Ta-Dah hit shelves Sept. 18.

CD EXCHANGE
Lupe Fiasco didn’t coast into his deal with Atlantic Records. The Chicago-based MC has been the subject of hip-hop chatter for years, but record contracts do fall through — a deal with Epic Records fizzled; Arista Records bailed — and another rapper slips beneath the radar in flyover country. Big surprise. Lupe showed up on fellow Chicagoan Kanye West’s single “Touch the Sky,” from Late Registration, and people listened. Lupe stood out. Maybe it’s his rhyme flow, which is somewhere between Common’s dexterous wordplay and Jay-Z’s unmistakable cadence. He balances street cred and underground style with ease. On new album Food and Liquor, released Sept. 19, Lupe finds level ground somewhere in the midst of innovative production and boogie-worthy beats, radio hits and B-side gems. Aside from the infectious ode to skateboarding “Kick Push,” the first single, “Daydreamin’,” is the most striking track on the album; Lupe enlisted vocal lioness Jill Scott to add her bold croon to the song. Lupe hops in with poignant verses that rise and fall with the soul-influenced melody. Food and Liquor doesn’t feature a parade of guest rappers; Jay-Z spits a verse on “Pressure,” but, aside from a few singers and songstresses, the album is all Lupe, a testament to his talent. The rich musical texture that accompanies Lupe’s mic work plunges into blues, jazz, soul, rock — even laser sound effects — and mostly succeeds in melding genres with hip-hop’s beats and scratches. The only weak track on the record, “The Instrumental,” tries to marry rock to rap. The predictably dysfunctional union sounds like good hip-hop over boring guitar lines. Skaters, club kids, and hip-hop purists can all get behind Lupe’s first major-label effort, and that’s no mean accomplishment.

Contact Marissa Monson at mmonson@illinoistimes.com

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