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Record Review 

In a genre beset by gangbangers, murderers and serial misogynists, Beanie Sigel is something special. Over the past year or two, the Philadelphia MC has been arrested on numerous occasions for attempted murder, firearms and drug possession, aggravated assault, evading arrest, and the list goes on. Like a cross between Icarus and Iceberg Slim, Beans has taken a direct path for the sun with guns blazing. But luckily - for us, at least - Sigel left behind a chronicle of his decline. The B. Coming, his new album, is the sound of him hitting an emotional rock bottom. The album is alternately mournful, defiant and depressing. At times, it's outright difficult to listen to, but it's also one of the best hip-hop albums of the year.

The album's lead single, "Feel It in the Air," traverses the same road as the Geto Boys' classic "Mind Playing Tricks on Me." It mingles a delusional sense of paranoia with beautiful but sparse moments of lucidity where Sigel says, "I still close my eyes/I still see visions/I still shine bright like a prism/My words still skipping." But there's no glimmer of hope on the defeatist confessional "I Can't Go On This Way," as he declares, "We make these chips off this gift we're cursed with/But then my mind drift/Am I defeating the purpose?"

And while the optimistically titled "Change is Gonna Come" would seem to provide a respite from the gloom and despair, the title (and hook) is merely an ironic conceit that gives way to consuming regret. The album's production matches Sigel's bleak tone, laying down minimal slabs of bluesy boom bap. It's not the sort of record that's loaded with club bangers, but for those who like their hip-hop grimy and personal, The B. Coming is instantly compelling.

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