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DEF JEF (Buy CDs by this artist)
Just a Poet With Soul (Delicious Vinyl) 1989

Articulate and clear-spoken, with varied, warm soul-funk tracks that layer percussion and samples over bouncing bass and drums, fast-talking California rapper Def Jef (Fortson) makes a fine first showing on the largely self-produced Just a Poet With Soul. But egotism is its own reward, and Jef's endless boasts about his rhyming skill make the first side and most of the flip a lyrical snore. Only the Afrocentric "Black to the Future" (biting the Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like an Eagle") and the urban tableau of "Downtown" break the mold, demonstrating the kind of material that should be the rule — not the exception — next time.

[Ira Robbins]