Yesterday Jay-Z, Masta Ace and I celebrated our birthdays. Not together mind you, Jay was likely feted on some exotic island he owns, while Ace and I celebrated in a more modest fashion. Well I’m just assuming Ace’s birthday was more low-key than Jay’s, but who knows, he might’ve gone wild with the Biz puppet, Full Retard style. Anyhoo, my point here is that I wanted to keep the gift giving going, and so I wanted to post something special that I hoped you’d really like. Enter Relic’s last album Miles to Go.

Truthfully I thought I’d already posted on this record months ago. I’ve listened to it numerous times since I got it, developed a sincere appreciation for it, and was sure I’d done a post on it. But there it was in my todo list, and when I checked, it seemed I’d only posted on Rel’s last video, Work of Heart. That’s a fairly common whoops for me, and, as usual, it’s a shame, because Miles to Go is the kind of fantastic-but-unheralded album that deserves whatever little shine we can give it.

Relic’s a veteran MC and producer, and his experience, both in life and the rap game, shines through as you soak this record in. The sounds are polished, but organic & authentic, and the beats thump with true school percussion, but are also more musical than you’d expect. Rel readily admits he’s a disciple of the folks oldsters like me consdier the best to do it, guys like Rakim & KRS, and he certainly does them proud. He’s been doing this for a long time, but he stil sounds confident and hungry. He makes an effort to be positive and pass on his experiencees, but he never preaches. He also has a knack for doing sing-song hooks on tracks like Gone Clear, Pocket Full of Change and The Goodness that’ll have you nodding along the first time you hear them. But there’s also plenty of straight-ahead, high-quality hip hop, like Down & Dirty, his collab with two of the hill’s favorite MC’s: Shad & Ghettosocks.

So even if it’s not your birthday, Christmas is right around the corner, so treat yourself to this one. It’s fourteen tracks of honest to goodness, stick to your ribs hip hop. That’s the gift that keeps on giving.