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MARCH 29

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1996 was supposed to herald the return of the great Native Tongues. All three groups in the posse, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Jungle Brothers, were to release crackin’ comeback records last year, but their tongues got twisted. De La booted producer Prince Paul, and Stakes Is High was filled with tired tracks, offering nothing like the sonic alchemy of the group’s first three albums. Tribe’s Beats, Rhymes, and Life was better yet still dull in comparison with the group’s previous funked-up glories, and the Jungle Brothers suffered the indignity of having their CD pushed back until April ’97, when all the press will be long past. Despite the delay, the J. Beez didn’t hit with the remedy for the tangled Tongues; Raw Deluxe is stripped to its rhymes-and-beats bones, sounding not simply sparse but emaciated (only “Jungle Brother” is fighting fit). The Bros.’ last album, J. Beez Wit the Remedy, was a fatter-than-phat Public Enemylike collage that totally alienated its hiphop audience. It’s also one of the best hiphop albums ever, a high point in the history of the genre’s revolutionary cut-up aesthetic. (In fact, Remedy’s music was originally so far out that Warners rejected the album, subsequently bootlegged as the Crazy Wisdom Masters). The album predated triphop by a year and a half, and now the likes of DJ Shadow and Tricky are capitalizing on the J. Beez’s innovations. But the Native Tongues have, sadly, lost their language. With Hyenas in the Desert, M.O.P., and O.G.C. at 7:30 p.m. at Capitol Ballroom, 1015 Half St. SE. $13. (202) 554-1500. (Christopher Porter)