Review ·

Faster Than You Know... is the well-intentioned sophomore album from Philly rap and singing crew the Spooks. Their dated hip-hop style generally appeals to a really grown-up audience -- like Laurence Fishburne, their first album's biggest champion, or the indiscriminating tastes of the European continent. Faster Than You Know ... features much-needed reflections on societal ills, but the substandard skills of the group's many emcees disrupt what could have been a smooth musical ride.

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Evidence of the Spooks' greatest strengths and crippling weakness is the stand-out title track. Sole singer, the Esthero-like Ming Xia, lifts her voice and listeners' spirits with the smooth chorus: "Faster than you know love will only make you grow and free you/ Don't be scared to show/ Why don't you just let it show and heal you."

Philly singing powerhouse Lady Alma and Ming Xia join forces on the soulful "In on It," but it's only in these moments that the Spooks are successful. Notable in-house neo-soul production makes the album listenable, and since rhyme champions Jay and 50 show no evidence of "switching their styles up" the Spooks are a decent option, although hardly optimal, for uplifting socially conscious hip-hop music.

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