Oakland’s Gift of Gab is an uncommonly spiritual rapper in a musical milieu that has more rap about gats than God. And yet, over the course of 18 years, seven albums, and countless singles, Gab (né Timothy Parker) has retained his secular street cred—mostly by displaying adroit verbal acuity and a talent for complex rhymes, both solo and with his groups Blackalicious and the Mighty Underdogs. The MC showcases his talents anew on his third solo album, The Next Logical Progression—most impressively as he chronicles the struggle that comes with keeping one foot on the street and the other on the yoga mat. In “Protocol,” he gives voice to inner-city kids who “Ain’t dealing with chakras / We dealing with choppers,” and in “Rise,” guest MC Raashan Ahmad questions whether it’s possible to study the poet Rumi while still quoting gangsta rap icon Too Short. In “Effed Up,” Gab tries to rise above schadenfreude when several girls who’ve dissed him fall on hard times. Such thorny situations might not be much fun to hear about if they weren’t wrapped in swinging horn riffs and thick funk rhythms. Throughout, Gab reconfirms himself as the self-proclaimed “monk of funk,” turning conscious rap into a viable commercial entity. Now that’s progress.