Although many know Melvin Van Peebles as an author/filmmaker/playwright and father of actor/director Mario Van Peebles, few may know that the elder Van Peebles is also a credible musical artist.

Although many know Melvin Van Peebles as an author/filmmaker/playwright and father of actor/director Mario Van Peebles, few may know that the elder Van Peebles is also a credible musical artist. The rerelease of Ghetto Gothic should enlighten those who have been left in the dark. Combining elements of jazz, R&B, classical, and rap, 1995's highly praised yet overlooked Ghetto Gothic is a collection worth revisiting. Van Peebles' tales of love, loss, and urban strife rival any of today's rap releases. For example, "On 115" is an emotional tale of a promising basketball star whose career is derailed by drugs. On "There," Van Peebles' sing-song delivery is both comical and heartbreaking. "Blinded by Your Stuff," the album's opening track, serves more as a spoken-word piece about love than a traditional song. Throughout Ghetto Gothic, Van Peebles—who was recently awarded the Chevalier in the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest honor—goes against the musical grain, following his own muse. The 10-minute-plus "The Apple Stretching," a moving tribute to New York City, ably proves that. Distributed by Sumthing.—RH

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