Album Reviews

T-Love – Long Way Back

UK release date: 30 September 2002

It’s a long running trend that as soon as pop artists gain chart success,they immediately go in search of someone cool and credible to boost theirown critical failings. Some artists, however, are innately credible rightfrom the start, and T-Love belongs very much in the latter category.

This former music journalist from LA has a list of credits as long asyour arm; she’s founded record labels (including Rumble/Pickinniny Records,which released Jurassic 5‘s debut), interviewed some of the biggestmovers and shakers in hip hop (De La Soul, Xzibit, Snoop Doggy-Dog,Beastie Boys), and written a book on LA’s hip hop scene. For someone so actively empowering themselves in the music industry, you would expect her to have some well-articulated opinions, and this T-Love delivers in spades in her lyrics.

‘Long Way Back’ is music for the thinking hip hop fan – while BeyonceKnowles sings about being independent because she buys her own shoes and clothes, T-Love talks about her own struggle for credibility, often critical of her male contemporaries: “Brothers get scared at the presence of intellect/ Making an appearance in the form of my sex” (‘Intellectual Proptease’). She also unleashes a ferocious social commentary about poverty, street violence and exploitation. “What can I do while you play prophet, take breath God gave me?” she asks, referring to urban gun culture on ‘Fortress (of a prophet)’.

The music itself is understated and subtly melodic – think LaurenHill without the choruses – creating more space for her provocativerhymes. While T-Love lacks the former Fugees singer’s natural pop sensibility, she provides an intelligent alternative to the gimmickry and posturing of mainstream hip hop. And you can be sure that whatever success she does achieve, she’ll be pulling her own strings.

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T-Love – Long Way Back