Kriss Kross scores a direct hit with 'Da Bomb'


August 13, 1993|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Pop Music Critic


Kriss Kross (Columbia 57218)

Little kids always want to be treated like big kids, and kid rappers are no exception. So it shouldn't seem too surprising that the Chrisses in Kriss Kross -- 14-year-old Chris Smith and 15-year-old Chris Kelly -- do their best to sound gangsta-tough on their sophomore effort, "Da Bomb." Granted, most of the RTC music's muscle comes courtesy of producer Jermaine Dupri, whose hypnotic, bass-heavy loops pack more punch than most heavyweights. Even so, the Chrisses have no trouble holding up their end, keeping pace with Super Cat on the dance hall-flavored "Alright" and adding plenty of weight to the ultra-tough chorus in "Take 'Em Out." If only they didn't spoil the effect by littering their raps with gratuitous use of the N-word.


Miles Davis and Quincy Jones

(Warner Bros. 45221)

For many jazz fans, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones' collaboration at the 1991 Montreux jazz festival was the comeback of the century. Not only had Davis deigned to perform in the acoustic style he seemingly abandoned in 1969, but he was playing the great Gil Evans arrangements from "Birth of the Cool," "Miles Ahead," "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain." And even though "Live at Montreux" doesn't quite capture all the grandeur the originals -- sadly, the rhythm work is too timid to spark the kind of fire Evans usually kindled -- it comes close enough, thanks to tight ensemble work playing from Jones' horn players. As for Davis, his solos are, for the most part, so lean and incisive it's hard to believe that this would be the final recording of his career.


Toni Braxton (LaFace 26007)

No matter how many singles producers L.A. Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons send into the charts, their reputation as hit-makers only goes so far. After all, no amount of rhythm refining or arrangement tweaking can save a single if the vocal isn't solid gold in the first place. And that's where Toni Braxton comes in. Sure, the LaFace team deserves a lot of credit for the sound of "Toni Braxton," building a sexy and insinuating groove for "Another Sad Love Song," and maintaining the deliciously slow simmer that warms "Seven Whole Days." But all that effort would go for naught without Braxton's sultry, Anita Baker-ish voice to put the proper passion in these love songs.


Urge Overkill (Geffen 24529)

Because attitude often carries as much weight with alternative rock fans as instrumental ability, bands that have both are usually greeted with reverence verging on adoration. So it's probably only a matter of time before shrines devoted to Urge Overkill begin to crop up at college radio stations across America. Granted, the Urge isn't as obviously trendy as Smashing Pumpkins or Liz Phair, but what this trio lacks in fashion sense it more than makes up in songwriting smarts. Indeed, the dozen or so tunes on "Saturation" offer an almost perfect blend of melodic ingenuity and guitar aggression, from the exhilarating chorus harmonies in "Sister Havana" to the bittersweet refrain of "Bottle of Fur."

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