While rap blends like P.M. Dawn (ambience rap) and Body Count (speed metal meets rap) make headlines, Los Angeles’ Yo Yo is busy making sense. Her musical style is updated old school — heavy syncopation, soul samples, stripped-down beats — adapted to lyrics that describe unpleasant realities without preaching or scaremongering. She confidently asserts herself throughout Black Pearl, praising a black female superhero (”Cleopatra”) and insisting (in ”Woman to Woman”) that the angry girl who phoned her after finding Yo Yo’s number in her boyfriend’s pocket confront her man instead. Later, she argues that sex-obsessed womanizers are nothing but ”Hoes,” and puts herself in the shoes of a pregnant, battered teen (”I Can’t Take It No More”). Her high, husky voice is sometimes hard to hear, and the record meanders at first, but Black Pearl is a much-needed reassertion of feminine dignity from the all-too-misogynistic West Coast rap scene.