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Scripts 'n Screwz 

The New Noise
(Villainous Entertainment)

When asked about their musical influences, Loose Screwz and Scripts "The Nature Boy" of the East St. Louis rap duo Scripts 'n Screwz respond, "OutKast!" without hesitation. Unsurprisingly, the production style on The New Noise is moderately reminiscent of the Atlanta supergroup's experimental efforts of the late '90s. The title track sets the tone for the album, with its smooth vocal performances and energetic distortion, although the pair takes a more laid-back approach on "Fairy Tale" and first single "Big City Lights," both of which are more accessible to casual rap fans. "Hands High" is akin to Kanye West's more recent efforts, laying heavy synths over melodic drum patterns, while "The War Outside" and "Eastwood" deliver a grittier sound with a hard rock edge, and the bass-heavy "Like This" is the closest thing you'll find to the Southern/crunk style of rap currently dominating St. Louis' nightclubs and airwaves.

Lyrically, Noise tends to avoid most of the biggest clichés associated with the genre; its songs thoughtfully touch on subjects like war, poverty and crazy women. One of the strongest tracks, "My First Rhyme," is an emotional dedication to Scripts' grandmother and Screwz's sister, both recently departed. Although Noise can lack polish at times, the album is ambitious and well-executed, providing listeners an impressive amount of variety — while offering an intelligent alternative to commercial rap.

7 p.m. Friday, May 2. Vintage Vinyl, 6610 Delmar Boulevard, University City. Free. 314-721-4096.

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o The Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail for more information.

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