On "Club Killah," Robert Houston, aka Black Pegasus, attacks radio programmers for ignoring his music. Most MCs avoid dropping such rhymes out of fear that the words might land on them, but Houston doesn't hesitate -- a bold move typical of an album that's as honest as it is catchy.
Knuckle's mixers should have taken a page from Sir Mix-A-Lot's book and given the CD a bigger bottom. Still, "Yeah Baby," which dares to emulate Kanye West, and "Knuckle Up" get over, thanks to Houston, whose versatile voice is convincing, whether he's spitting hard or smooth. Just as important, he refuses to settle for mere bluster. In "What's Going On," for example, he juxtaposes a recap of criminal activity with the admission that, during high school, he was pimple-faced and unsuccessful with girls. Such lines make many other rappers' versions of keeping it real seem utterly phony.
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Like Houston, Knuckle Up, which is being unveiled during a February 3 Fox Theatre show co-starring Accumen1, Flowalition and Proximity Minds, doesn't pull any punches.