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LAQUAN (Buy CDs by this artist)
Notes of a Native Son (4th & B'way) 1990

With a live band and backing singers on every track, this precocious Los Angeles teenager's debut album (produced by Bell Biv Devoe studio associates Richard Wolf and Bret Mazur) has the panoramic sound of big-league soul, an exceptionally posh musical setting for real hip-hop. Looking beyond that stylistic innovation, Laquan's an extremely articulate rapper who goes easy on the clichés and slang to deliver a serious god-praising black-pride message with grace and dignity — but he has too little style to fully electrify the handsome grooves.

[Ira Robbins]