Leah C is fresh and unique without being altogether unfamiliar. With her debut, Rush, the Northrop High School junior has created an album strong enough to carve out a niche for herself, even if mainstream female rappers are all but extinct. Though her predecessors include J.J. Fad, the Oakland-based, all-female trio of the late 80s, younger fans might cite Kid Sister and Black Eyed Peas member, Fergie, as obvious influences. On the title track, Leah C employs a sing-song style that works very well, but on “Every Breath” she sings outright – a move that underscores her limitations in this area. Like most singing MC’s before her (with the exceptions of Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah), Leah C is more adept as a rhymestress than as a singer.
The 15-song LP is heavily techno and digitally inspired and has enough Dirty South bounce to provide the right instrumental for teenagers and adolescents who really just want to dance.
Fans of the techno video game Dance Dance Revolution will love “Mugging,” one of Rush’s highlights. The song – about people staring and pretending to be tough – sounds like it could be included on the popular arcade game’s soundtrack. With “Lotion” Leah stays on the techno side of things, but this track also includes a Dr. Dre, Chronic-era sounding sample that drives this chick-friendly tune about the dating scene. Just when you think Leah C’s subject matter is strictly lighthearted, in comes “Katie,” a song about teenage drug and alcohol abuse. She shows some promising storytelling skills on this track when she raps, “Katie wanna drink but she’s only 19 / wanna mix that apple juice with some Hennessey feel it slide down her throat tongue tingling / tip the whole bottle down ’til she can’t see.”
Still, fans of complex rhyme slingers like Bahamadia and, more recently, Jean Grae, may insist that Leah C’s content lacks the substance necessary to give women more equality in hip-hop. That’s not her priority, at least right now. Her debut is creative and humorous but, most importantly, genuinely her. There’s really no need to rush into anything else.
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March 27 • The Clyde