Outerspace Blood Brothers

Like Army of the Pharaohs associates Jedi Mind Tricks, Philly’s Outerspace specialises in gritty, sinister underground rap. Um, at times, too gritty and sinister; their debut record, Blood and Ashes, was so raw and aggro that listening to it on headphones was kind of like having an energised Ron Artest bouncing around in your head. Blood Brothers strays somewhat, offering just enough variety to make all the bang-bang posturing more palatable. The intro title track is dense and bleak, the perfect example of how effective Outerspace’s labyrinthine darkness can be. At the other end of the spectrum is the tedious "U Don’t Like Me,” which rings gratingly hollow. New to the duo’s arsenal is a lot of (possibly false) cash braggadocio, justified on "Grown Ass Man”: "I ain't got to write graf/I’m allowed to like cash/Who you think you talking to?/I’m a grown ass man.” But the record brightens over its second half, as on rolling head-nodder "Street Massacre,” which is backed by a kid choir and flute. It’s just one of the few airy moments that give Blood Brothers its weight. (Babygrande)