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X-CLAN, Return from Mecca, Suburban Noize
Cementing 2006 as hip-hop's ultimate year of the comeback, X-Clan joins Public Enemy, Black Sheep, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z among the ranks that made solid, if not spectacular, returns. And Return from Mecca delivers a lot of nice surprises along the way, such as "The Narrator" RBX filling in for the late Professor X, complete with his signature "this is protected..." line on "Voodoo." Or the "My Name is D-Nice" sample on "Weapon X." Or a Timbaland-esque sample of trains, their whistles and crossing signals on the appropriately named "Locomotion." Or the memories of a paranoid David Bowie running away from Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor every hour on 1997 MTV in the video for "I'm Afraid of Americans," remade here with the duo of Brother J and Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix in their place. Or, finally, the tease of KRS-One on an interlude before a full-fledged cameo later on the disc (sadly, the same can't be said for Chuck D's brief call to "stay tuned for more X-Clan.") But the biggest surprise of all may be that Brother J and company could be away for so long and still drop an album this good. (It's been 10 years since Brother J's Dark Sun Riders spinoff, and 14 since what seemed like X-Clan's finale, Xodus, until this year.) But then again, X-Clan always has been underrated, even on the funk-sampling, pioneering classic To the East, Blackwards. That was 1990, but in 2006, X-Clan still brings the funk. (Not to mention the bass.) Standouts pretty much cover the entire track listing: "Aragorn," "Speak the Truth," "Mecca," "Prison," "Atonement," "Self Destruct," "Space People," "Trump Card," "Why You Doin' That?" ... the list goes on. If the production doesn't get you, then Brother J's still-precise lyricism will. And the subject matter is still trademark X, updated for this new era. X-Clan didn't forget how to make an album during their time off. In fact, it seems in this year of the comeback, the further your history reaches back, the stronger you return.
Click here to find out how to buy this album.

-- Mason Storm

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