Elite

Much of Black and White, the December release from Park Hill product Dakota LaTier (aka Elite), ventriloquizes the lyrical strategy of another, more famous rapper — Lil Wayne. Similar to Wayne in his less complex moments, Elite’s singsong flow relies on similes and metaphors that compare wildly disparate concepts, invoking in the listener the sort of reactions — Did he just do that? — that signify a talented MC. Though he remains a Tibetan’s freedom away from Weezy in terms of skill of delivery, consider the various analogies, for example, that Elite employs for a gun: food (“a quick squeeze of Swiss cheese”), astronomy (“shoot heat like the sun do”), baby furniture (“strapped like a highchair”), school supplies (“two straps like a backpack”), a video-sharing Web site (“more clips than YouTube”) and a famous motorcycle rally (“more choppers than Sturgis”), to name a few.

Black and White leaves listeners with the feeling that they’ve been to this dark, criminalized place before, with a knapsack of other gangster albums. (The thug-confessional “Lord, Take Me Away” and the aspiring club mix “Getaway” are predictably cringeworthy.) And many of Elite’s rhyme schemes — simplistic enough to recall an early Will Smith — can grow tiresome when coupled with the high-pitched earnestness of his vocals. But the redemptive value of this album lies in its most basic element, the lyrics, combined with a few moments of original production, such as the reggae-tinged “Blowin’ on Jamaica”; the grinding “Pick ‘Em Up (Killa City)”; and “Talk to God,” whose hook is a cleverly screwed line from 50 Cent’s “Many Men.” Elite’s imaginative power peaks in “72 Rappers,” which solely consists of puns on other rappers’ names. More than any other track on the album, this song’s coherence, originality and strength of narrative show Elite discovering his own voice.

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