Even though they name-check the Dirty South on the song "Balance," the Micranots, a hip-hop act from Atlanta, can't be accused of jumping on the bandwagon that Master P and his army of clones have ridden into the ground. The duo -- MC I Self Denhe and DJ Kool Akiem -- thankfully privilege abstract beats over Southern-fried bounce on their debut, Obelisk Movements
. If anything, Self and Akiem aspire to create the kind of mythology that KRS-One developed in the mid-'80s with his gibberish about ghetto blueprints and black messiahs. On their website, they break down some possible meanings behind their name -- it could stand for "Mega Intelligence Controlling Realities Never Owing the System Shit" or "Many Individuals Combined Raising a Nation of the Sun." And in the liner notes, they explain that the title of the record relates to the way that Egyptian obelisks were stolen as prizes in colonial times, but are now symbolic of turntable needles -- "where the vinyl hits the obelisk" is where the "essence of hip-hop music is most fully represented." Whatever. Crackpot philosophies aside, the Micranots have good beats, and I Self flows as smoothly as any of the masters. Akiem mixes it up with samples of blaring horns ("Pitch Black Ark") and pianos ("Preparations"), and in tracks such as "Monuments" and "Analyze" creates breaks that owe more to jazz than to rap. He also inserts random instructional vocals that recall the experimental methods of Coldcut and the Ninja Tune clique more than any hip-hop act from down South or elsewhere.