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Confrontation Camp

Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (Creamworks Jv)

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This collaboration between a rock group (Chain Gang), a turntablist (DJ Lord), and Public Enemy's most political voices (Chuck D and Professor Griff) is no longer unique for its fusion of styles. However, comparisons between Confrontation Camp and today's popular rap/rock acts aren't especially valid, as the group evokes the classic soulfulness of Living Colour more than the aggressive grind of, say, Rage Against the Machine.

In fact, Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (released in July) is more musically inclusive than any of the aforementioned references might suggest. "Jasper," a bluesy meditation on recent racially motivated violence, is musically connected to Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit." Similarly, the funky "Babies Makin' Babies Killin' Babies" is a musical and thematic descendant of Sly and the Family Stone, and "U R Us," a class-conscious statement of alliance with the audience, rocks as pretension-free as a Grand Funk record.

Like Rage Against the Machine's The Battle of Los Angeles, this well-focused assault on conventional wisdom clocks in at the length of old vinyl -- 40 minutes. That makes the flexibility of its approach all the more remarkable and the impact of its lyricism as concrete as a blunt instrument. However, this disc's most effective source of charm is the smooth, supple instrument employed by Chain Gang's lead singer, Kyle Jason. It is his quiet soul singing that makes "Jasper" work, rendering poignant a simple line such as I'm a big cowboy fan, but I must admit/I'd never heard of Jasper, Texas, until today. Even the oft-preachy Mistachuck eventually follows Jason's quiet lead with a concise statement of the inextricable relationship between the political and the personal: Strange fruit at the root of a strange tree/And you know something, that stranger could have been me.

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