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Entertainment Weekly

Article

Young Black Teenagers

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Young Black Teenagers are five white rappers in their early 20s who have done just about everything to get our attention: Young Black Teenagers‘ first single, ”Nobody Knows Kelli,” lusted after Married With Children‘s Kelli Bundy; they followed that up with ”To My Donna,” a parody response to ”Justify My Love.” As anyone might imagine, the Teens’ name has stirred a minor storm in the hip-hop community, despite their close ties to Public Enemy (they share the same producers). The members of the group say they want to redefine ”blackness” as culture rather than race. Some blacks accuse them of trivializing race at a time when, in many cities, a young black man has difficulty getting a taxi — or living past 30. Unfortunately, this controversy may overshadow the group’s album. The Bomb Squad production team works the same magic here as they did on Public Enemy’s three albums and on Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. The fast and furious musical backing delivers a flurry of percussion, with guitar and horn samples popping up everywhere. And the Teens are more than two flashy singles: They rise to the challenge presented by the high-quality production, and rhyme with conviction, particularly in the racially confused blues of ”Daddy Kalled Me Niga Cause I Likeded to Rhyme.” Hopefully the Young Black Teenagers will outlive the controversy about them; their album deserves to.

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