Critics are already claiming that rap has run out of steam, but they’re forgetting that the genre sprouted from roots deep in black pop, and can survive quite nicely by blending with other musical styles. Multiracial outfits Color Me Badd and Rythm Syndicate swing their rap sound in previously unexplored directions: C.M.B. look back to smooth doo-wop, the Syndicate take on sax-skronking jazz. (Both also dominate this summer’s good-time radio with irresistible singles, ”I Wanna Sex You Up” and ”P.A.S.S.I.O.N.,” respectively.) However decent C.M.B.’s intentions of turning street-corner harmonies into dance-floor grooves, nothing on their debut — not their four fine voices, glossy production, or titillating youthful smut — sounds honest. C.M.B.‘s self-titled rap virtually threatens the group’s teenage listeners with the industry muscle that put these dreamboats on the airwaves (”We’re down with Warner Brothers ”).

Rythm Syndicate is an altogether new thing in hip-hop — they play music, rather than electronically sampling it — and use their instruments to punctuate love song after dumb love song with wailing horns and (surprise of surprises) guitar solos. Do ”hip-hop doo-wop” and jazzed-up rap make terrifically marketable summer radio? Sure! The wave of the future? Not with these bands. C+

  • Music