Digital Underground was the first breakout rap act to really hijack the Mothership; P-Funk wasn’t just part of its sound, it was in its act. In the early ’90s, as hiphop’s heyday started to fade and gangsta took over, DU was, by the mack-daddy standards of the genre, a revelation—horny but not averse to cuddling, danceable but still hard, and amusing in a way that seldom sacrificed realness for a laugh. Who Got the Gravy? has arrived just when the group was assumed defunct; most of DU’s members have gone their separate ways. (One of them, Tupac, is dead.) Shock G still has enough cred to attract some marquee guest stars, KRS-One and Big Punisher among them, but name-brand talent is a sorry substitute for the cohesive buddy power that used to enable this unruly collective to sound like a band. The stale G-funk Shock G used to employ occasionally now dominates, and not even KRS-One can give it any edge. Everything here sounds premeditated. On “Blind Mice,” six MCs partake in a supposed mike battle as if they’re reading from a TelePrompTer. Most disappointing is that Humpty-Hump, G’s geek-pimp alter ego, promises to tell jokes and then never says anything funny; he leaves that to Biz Markie, who guests on “The Odd Couple” and proves once again that he could crack up a room just by walking into it. There are no bold innovations here that have simply fallen short, just a crew sucking wind where it used to excel. Don’t call Gravy a comeback, because it’s not.—Brett Anderson

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