Mixed Race, Tricky’s eighth album, is a dark, tense romp, and at times cinematic. Music boxes. Rounds being chambered. Atmospheric synth fills. According to Tricky (born Adrian Thaws), Mixed Race — which has already been released in the U.K. and will be available in the States on Oct. 5 — is the closest the British rapper-producer is going to get to “gangsta album” because, as he said, he never lived that life. In fact, one of the better tracks on the album, “Ghetto Stars,” paints a cautionary tale of that life, told from the standpoint of a woman visiting her man behind bars: “Ghetto Stars don’t go far, ghetto traps, locked behind bars,” sings Frankey Riley on the chorus. And in “Early Bird,” Tricky raps about his youth and the various criminal activities he witnessed but never had the stomach to participate in. It makes sense: Tricky noted that he’s had family who lived the illegal life. Three were murdered — two by gunshots, and one by the knife.

“Murder Weapon,” the album’s first single, reworks Echo Minott’s early ’90s hit. It keeps up in terms of drive but misses the bounce of the original. “UK Jamaican” is a powerful club banger featuring Terry Lynn’s patois.

Tricky is mostly content to stay behind the boards, leaving the vocal duties to Riley, Lynn and his brother Marlon.

It doesn’t find him back at the heights he achieved with his genre-defining debut, Maxinquaye, but it is a solid album. If you’re getting back to Tricky after any kind of hiatus, this is a good album with which to start.

This review was originally published on TheRoot.com

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