Y-Love This is Babylon

Imagine X-Clan’s Brother J converted to Hasidism and enlisted the production skills of Rob Sonic and Anti-Pop Consortium and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Baltimore MC Y-Love’s debut album. This is Babylon is a revolutionary album in all aspects, circumventing the majority of the conventions of commercial hip-hop. To start with, Y-Love has something to say and he’s willing to express it, no matter the language he feels necessary to state it in. Incorporating Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin amidst the primarily English lyrics, Y-Love further reinforces the global feel of the album with his spiritual, socially conscious content, which delves deep into world issues. But it doesn’t stop with the raps. Jake Break’s production is up-tempo and groovy — perfect for the dance floor — but he’s also not afraid to get a little weird, adding in bleeps, blips and other whacked out sound effects. While This is Babylon is a solid release from front to back, some songs do stand out. "Keep the Party Divine” mixes muddy but heavy drums with a bit of synth bass and that high pitched synth effect made popular by G-funk while Y-Love breaks out some conscious party raps. "The New Disease” is overloaded with dark synth, Theremin, up-tempo drums and disco-y stabs for a club track designed to educate the ignorant. And "State of the Nation” is a fast-paced, political state of the union address that you can dance to. It’s clever, really. After all, how can one go wrong merging a message with party music? (Modular Moods/Fontana/Universal)