Chuck Brown

Today's hip-hop royalty knows Chuck Brown quite well, even if the fans don't. Nelly, for instance, sampled Brown's 1978 smash "Bustin' Loose" in his own number one, "Hot in Herre." Brown is the founder and undisputed champion of go-go, an exuberant blend of funk and soul that hails from his hometown of Washington, D.C. For this release, his first collection of original material since his late-Seventies heyday, Brown has enlisted producer Chucky Thompson (Nas, Biggie Smalls) to give his rump-shakers some extra thump. Mission accomplished. "Chuck Baby" opens with a dazzling, syncopated backbeat and horn charts straight from the G-Funk playbook. As a veteran of the penal system who's pushing 75, Brown has learned to relax over the years. He gives his players plenty of room to lay down the proper groove before offering his playful growls of exhortation. The gem amid this embarrassment of riches is the polyrhythmic Latin jamboree "We Come to Party." Hell, it sounds like he never left.

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Steven Almond