Gift of Gab: Escape 2 Mars Paste

Keeping busy as partner in rhyme to DJ and production specialist Chief Xcel in lauded duo Blackalicious, Gab took five years to follow his masterful solo debut 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, a record as obsessed with scientific discovery as spiritual awakening. But even with Gab’s phonetic prowess and all that time to prepare for launch, Escape 2 Mars doesn’t reach the transcendent heights of its sublime, lushly orchestrated predecessor, ultimately feeling less like an epic interplanetary voyage and more like space camp. But who didn’t fantasize about going to space camp as a kid? Space camp is fun! And so is Escape 2 Mars. At its best (“E2MTRO,” “Spotlight” and the title track), the record plays like rap’s funky answer to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars?”