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Z-Ro: Crack

By and large, humans are communal creatures; Z-Ro, however, is not fortunate enough to be a "by and large" type of guy, and his awareness of this is precisely what has made him such a fervent and authentic spokesman of scrape. He's preached a gospel of distrust and cynicism for the better part of ten proper LPs, eschewing the inevitable disappointment of love in lieu of chasing money, but with a concrete realization that it's a completely inadequate manner of living. It's a destitute place from which to draw one's ethos, but Z-Ro has made it commonplace and has used it to pump out more evocative LPs and mixtapes than Samuel L. Jackson has poorly plotted movies. Crack is no different. It's an overwhelmingly solemn exercise in solidarity by a man who unquestionably recognizes his own futility. The sum of Z-Ro's plight is captured in a not-so-subtle 4:15 span in which the unexpected ballad "Baby Girl," where Z-Ro makes a paper claim to his potential happiness, is simultaneously usurped and regressed by the succinct opening line of the very next track: "Bitch, you ain't gotta call my phone." A certain amount of self-­aggrandizing conceit has to go through someone's head for them to name their album Crack, and the natural reaction to such narcissism is to automatically resent them for it, but Z-Ro gets a pass, and always will. Conceit may be all he'll ever have.

 
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