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CD Reviews: Beanie Sigel, Divine Fits

"This Time" -- Beanie Sigel Credit: "This Time"

'This Time'
3 stars

In album closer " Dangerous," one of the choicer cuts off "This Time," South Philly rap star Beanie Sigel expounds on some of the more illogical points of prison sentencing, a topic with which he is more than conversant (Beans is headed back inside next month for a two-year stint on tax evasion charges).

Once again rushing a record release to make a jail date (as he did with 2005's "The B. Coming," generally considered his best work), Sigel is seemingly choosing authenticity over business sense, unlike his former label head Jay-Z, with whom he had a beef before reaching a détente last year.

The rap game is fed in part by the ceaseless ego wars of its beta tier (the top moguls having figured out that money elicits its own respect). But Sigel's repeated setbacks have stemmed from his own design, not a fresh well of enemies.

His fifth studio album doesn't suffer much from his diverted attentions. After an overblown, self-mythologizing intro and a few formless lead-in tracks (including the Akon-stained "That's All I Know"), the Broad Street Bully gets down to business on "Bang Bang Youth," a grim, claustrophobic street life chronicle.

He turns up the relentless atmosphere with the growling standout "No Hook," before taking it back to the source with his old State Property crew on "The Reunion," trading bars with fellow Philadelphian Freeway on an exuberant reminder of just how exciting a free Sigel can be.


'A Thing Called Divine Fits'
3 stars

Expectations tend to run high when stars align, and sometimes they are rewarded tenfold. Enters Divine Fits, featuring Britt Daniel of Spoon, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade, and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks. Daniel and Boeckner prove to be kindred souls, whose talents for razor-sharp songwriting and lean, spiky guitar intertwine like creeper vines. The Daniel-sung "Flaggin A Ride" will easily whet the appetites of Spoon fans.

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