BB Queen (Goodvibe/Atomic Pop)

There's an old-school celebration ringing throughout Bahamadia's BB Queen that's both liberating and repressing. The opening turntable blitz from DJ Revolution on "BB Queen's Intro" is a refreshing throwback to the days when hip-hop was on the verge of breaking beyond the singles forum. The frantic cutting and scratching also promise something grand in the coming grooves, almost a cleansing of mildewy rap. It's a prologue fit for a queen, and when Bahamadia herself enters on "Special Forces," a sense of sparkling royalty also makes its way into the song.

Unfortunately, Bahamadia doesn't have much opportunity to build on this. With so many of today's hip-hop albums stretching to the breaking point of an ass-numbing 80 minutes, who would've thought we would be complaining about BB Queen's short running time? Officially an EP, the entire seven-song set runs barely 25 minutes. It's been four years since Bahamadia's promising debut, Kollage -- couldn't she come up with a few more tunes to fill out this disc? She barely registers a blip (with all the cameos) before it's time for her to go. It's hard to believe that she doesn't have more to say, especially since her organic, rootsy hip-hop would be a welcome change from today's industrial-line Cash Money and No Limit product. What she does manage to say, though, is revitalizing. Like fellow Philadelphians the Roots, Bahamadia treats hip-hop as sacred, divine stuff. It's not a means to a monetary end for her, and you get a sense of that on BB Queen's best cuts, especially the drum 'n' bass-inflected "Pep Talk." Too bad she couldn't stick around a little longer to convince us more.