There’s an unflinching commitment to happiness that feels almost alien upon revisiting the work of Blackalicious. Alien in the sense of how rarely such a sunbeam bursts through whichever darkness engulfs the globe around an album; nevertheless, Gift of Gab and DJ Xcel persist to the ends of a compact disc. Blazing Arrow displays some of the most dazzling technicality ever put to record, be it Gab’s effortless pen maneuvers or Xcel’s freewheeling expertise on the boards. Make no mistake, the hallmarks of the early-aughts remain intact: dense rapping about rapping, traces of neo-soul, and a poetic flair many contemporaries would deem lost or antiquated.