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The Tones Dreamtalk

West Coast hip-hop duo The Tones style their debut LP with über-positive verses and hard, classic beats. MCs Retro and Suhn get personal and profound on Dreamtalk, as "Fly Angel" finds them honoring a deceased loved one in smart, memorably elegiac couplets. The melancholy "If You Could Change" pins analysis of the mainstream's obsession with clothes, hoes, and cash woes against dry claps and airy flutes. Although Retro might overindulge in formulaic pitched-up soul-vocal samples, the Dreamtalk backdrops more often tend toward soothing. "Without You" and "Far Away" pack the same sort of rich, catchy choruses and glowing MPC-fashioned production that Panacea crafted for last year's The Scenic Route. No beatdowns or cash coveting? Keep talkin’, Tones.

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