Spun: Various Artists

Like the movie it came from, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party soundtrack is a wonderfully spontaneous meeting of soul and hip-hop performers who throw down in the name of love, unity and good times.

From start to finish, Block Party plays like a live concert. Although you’ve heard the songs before, the live renditions often surpass their studio versions in grit and energy, and some tracks feature guest performers not found on the originals. Erykah Badu is a welcome addition to “The Blast,” by Talib Kweli, and “The Light” by Common, while the Roots, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap bring the old school flavour on “Boom.” The Roots’ rendition of “You Got Me” featuring Erykah Badu and Jill Scott takes on a tribal element completely different from its treatment on Things Fall Apart.

The sound quality is not always great, but the musicianship is. Punchy drums, smooth organs, screaming guitar solos, juicy bass and funky congo drums round out the backing sound to some of the freshest young rappers and soul singers in the game. For some reason Talib Kweli sounds raspier than a seasoned chain smoker, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing–just different from his usual high-pitched clarity. If you are a fan of any member of the Block Party’s all-star line up, this album is worth checking out.

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