Akrobatic Absolute Value

With five years between discs, a sophomore set from Boston MC Akrobatik has definitely been a long-time coming, and the energy he brings to the 14 cuts that make up Absolute Value reveal there’s still hunger in this man’s belly. The Beantown lyricist utilises a two-pronged approach in his quest to educate and entertain, dividing his mic time into a fairly flexible and evenly spit display of battle rhymes and prodding social observations. The album’s many respectful guests — a long list including Chuck D, B-Real, Little Brother and Talib Kweli — reflect that lyrical approach, with the latter matching the host’s intensity over a servable, string-sliced Dilla cut, while Chuck offers some P.S.A.-style commentary to the black history lesson of "Kindred.” At the end of the day though, Akrobatik’s ultimate success is beat dependant, and when the music is off, as on the slightly grating, Hezekiah-produced "Step It Up,” or the poor-man’s "Grindin’” nod of "Beast Mode,” things tend to suffer, inevitably leaving the record with more than a few wanting moments. (Fatbeats)