Following 1996's Kollage, her well-received full-length debut, Philadelphia's Bahamadia established herself as the cameo queen of underground hip-hop, making attention-grabbing appearances on Soundbombing II and albums by The Roots, Spontaneous, and Roni Size. Having parted ways with her first label, Bahamadia recently found a home at the up-and-coming hip-hop indie Goodvibe, which has done a nice job whipping up excitement for BB Queen, a seven-track EP that's received more press attention than many full-length albums from major-label artists. Listening to BB Queen, it's easy to understand why she's become such a critics' darling: With her unmistakably raspy and seductive voice, smart lyrics, and hypnotic delivery, she emanates the sort of bohemian cool that made Digable Planets so refreshing. After the obligatory intro, this time provided by DJ Revolution, BB Queen gets off to an excellent start with "Special Forces," which memorably pairs Bahamadia with battle-rap titans Cali Agents (Rasco and Planet Asia) and The Mountain Brothers' Chops, who provides the song's simple but effective beat. From there, Bahamadia pays tribute to thrifty sisters on "Commonwealth (Cheap Chicks)," dabbles in drum-and-bass on the album-closing "Pep Talk," and enrolls in the long-list-of-social-problems-with-an-upbeat-chorus school of social criticism with "Beautiful Things." Burying her tasteful rhymes deep within the grooves, BB Queen points the way to a subdued, ambient form of hip-hop better suited to dimly lit chill-out rooms than dance floors. Though too brief and insubstantial to be essential, BB Queen offers ample rewards for listeners receptive to Bahamadia's uniquely subterranean style of hip-hop.

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