This one’s for my Mizzou people, you know who you are. Not only is Approach the best MC ever to hail from Kansas City, he swings a nice lisp (especially audible on “Hey Y’all”) and makes his own funky beats. This is straight-up party fodder for your mind à la J5, Lyrics Born, Talib Kweli — and ya don’t quit…
Allen Avanessian (Plug Research) and Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel, Postal Service, Figurine) hit the lab with a hard drive full of devolved beats and glitch-and-paste collages, then invite a who’s who of electronic and hip-hop innovators to muse over the sparse foundation. The result ranges from head-nodding to chin-stroking; this track, featuring verbal gymnast Subtitle flowing over what sounds like a dying music box, exemplifies the latter.
Raashan Ahmad unleashes a brief history lesson of dance moves whilst Zeph moves the crowd with his disco flash production.
Instrumentally sparse, lyrically thick head-nodders that — while decidedly unpretentious — exude the confidence of b-boys who know they’ll be around for a while.
Sinewy, smokey grooves bob and weave to Azeem’s verbal left-right combos. Major league hip hop at home in the underground.
While their older material was oddly bouyant conscious hip-hop, Oddjobs’ latest (“Hypnotize”) turns down a dark alley toward straight-up griot poetry.
Halifax’s art-hop pioneer evolves his doomsday mic checks into full-blown audio armageddon (see “Storm Clouds & Silver Lining”) for his Ninja Tune debut.
Not rap, not jazz, not spoken word — at least not as you know it. Refreshingly tight live sessions that manage to reference Run-DMC and Mother Goose in the same verse with only a slight smirk.
The “As Serious As Your Life” B-sides come in all flavors: Jay Dee and Guilty Simpson capitalize on the original’s funky underpinnings with b-boy savoir faire while the live version pushes the limits of both RAM and patience.