Funk Junkie

Somewhere between the Lone Star State and the nation's capital, Citizen Cope (Clarence Greenwood's nom de plume) learned to mold rhythm and blues and Sixties folk into arrangements that recall everything from Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder to Arrested Development. Sure, he's white, but Greenwood has soul. Last year's self-titled debut, which earned the D.C. one-man band glowing reviews by critics, offered everything from uptempo reggae-tinged zingers to slow-jam seducers, touching on subjects from youth-harassing police ("Contact") to addiction ("$200,000 [In Counterfeit 50 Dollar Bills]"). And when Greenwood sings about the devil driving in a Porsche 944 to take the soul of a musician ("Salvation"), one can feel Beelzebub revving up the engine.

Born in Memphis and spending time in Mississippi and Texas, Greenwood landed in Washington, D.C., where he became the keyboardist and DJ for early-Nineties alt-rap band Basehead. When the group disbanded after two well-received albums, Greenwood floated around for the latter half of the Nineties, finally signing with DreamWorks in 2000 as Citizen Cope. Though he doesn't claim to be a bad-ass in his music, his songwriting and sincerity speak volumes.

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Omar Perez