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Jean Grae Jeanius

Jean Grae’s underground credentials are as rock-solid as they come, and not just because she releases new material less frequently than some rappers who have supposedly retired. Jeanius, her heavily anticipated (and bootlegged) collaboration with producer 9th Wonder, arrives after years of delays and setbacks, and while it would be nice to hail it as an underdog masterpiece, it’s really just quality backpacker hip-hop. Grae’s flow is impeccable, and on those rare moments when she sounds like she’s having fun, her charisma shines through. But 9th’s Little Brother and Justus League cohorts upstage her on grittier numbers like “Smashmouth” and “American Pimp,” the album’s highlights. Grae’s moment will come, but this isn’t it.

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