Listening to Rhyme N Rhythm is like stepping into a warm bath. Cozy sounds fill the air—keys, soft horns—as a subtle groove is developed and shaped, eventually forming the wax candles that will be lit by one of RNR’s four MCs. “Life is a journey/Be my passenger,” proclaims the opening title track of Hello Groove, and you can’t help but quietly consent. It isn’t all finesse, though. RNR knows how to get the party started, too, as on the irrepressibly head-bopping “Flip da Script,” which somehow creates a Timbaland-style backbeat using live instruments.
When the band goes for the easy gimmick, it’s usually less successful. Basing an R&B tune on a Willy Wonka sample (“Pure Imagination”) sounds cool, but it doesn’t really stick with you when the disc ends. No, the strength of RNR lies in its originals, or rather its originality, and in this area, Hello Groove holds up favorably.