Beats and Rhymes, a music licensing company based in New York, has been putting out compilations by lesser-known emcees matched with little-known producers for quite some time. The records channel the backpack sound of hip-hop and give each artist an opportunity to make their best impression on the listener. But with this double A-Side release, Beats and Rhymes fails to inject compelling hip-hop into the underground, a place where experimentation thrives. Butta Verses, who made his only high profile appearance on De La Soul’s “No” from 2004’s The Grind Date, delivers two completely uninspired verses on “Jones in Ya Bones” that have barely any relation to one another. Verses raps, “Now let’s get money / People out there who plan to take from me / They all want the finer things”, leading up to a chorus from Lucien that makes the listener yearn for the voice of his inspirer Bilal. The beat, provided by Marco Polo, surprisingly sounds like a leftover instrumental from De La Soul’s AOI: Bionix with crusty drums, a popping bass line and synth droplets that hit too softly to make the track stand out. Black Attack’s “Black Man”, is similarly conflicted, with untrue lines like “Rap was lame ‘til I popped up” that give the track an unauthentic feel. Fortunately, the twinkling beat by V.I.C. provides the song with a delightful candy shop hue, but combined with the other track on the record, this release is simply moot in the scope of the genre.
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// Notes from the Road
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