's debut album, Kollage
, is an underrated, jazzy affair paced by some nifty production and the MC's own dryly gentle delivery. Despite her laid-back, even deliberate flow, she has a confident, upfront presence on the mic, with strong rhyming skills and a fondness for old-school wordplay (as demonstrated on, naturally, "Wordplay"). Being a protégée of Gang Starr
and a native of Philadelphia, she gets production help from the former's DJ Premier and Guru
, as well as the latter's Roots
. The music often recalls both of those artists, as well as the unassuming, low-key ambience of Digable Planets
. But there's also often a dreamier quality than any of those groups, thanks to some spacy keyboards and fusion samples, and some R&B elements as well, most notably on the excellent single "I Confess." Other highlights include her two early singles, "Total Wreck" and "Uknowhowwedu," and the quietly shimmering "Spontaneity." Kollage
isn't hugely varied, but it is fairly consistent, and fans of intellectual bohemian hip-hop will find this album very good at what it does.