Friday, June 20, 2008

Quick Hitters:: Prairie Rap Blowout Edition

Ok, in an effort to clear both my conscience (for making these fine folks wait so long before talking about them), and my review pile in advance of a couple busy, vacation and friend-visiting filled weeks, I bring you three fine hip hop albums from the prairies. First up we have The Damage Is Done from Edmonton crew Low Budget Affiliates, another Edmonton release in the form of A.O.K.'s If You Don't Buy This CD The Terrorists Win, and then a combo effort from Canadian producer Factor and Winnipeg crew Deepcave. That's a full-course prairie rap meal right there.

The Low Budget Affiliates are a six man crew from Edmonton consisting of Add-Vice, Chris Plus, Chazmosis,
Max Prime, Nato, Balzac - and I owe them a bit of an apology. I was sent the disc a long time ago, and put it in my "todo" pile, which got moved around a few times before ending up out of site and out of mind. So this is a long overdue mention for LBA here on the hill, but it's an album worth checking if your tastes veer into grimy, underground east coast hip hop territory. I was familiar with DJ Nato from his work with Touch (others may recognize him from his interlude appearance on the Cadence Weapon's latest album), but the MC's were all pretty new to me. That being said, they all come mighty hungry and attack the rugged beats like a pack of hungry hip hop hyenas. There isn't anything flossy or flashy going on here, LBA is about that boom-bap traditional hip hop. You have a problem with that? I didn't think so.

A.O.K. stands for Assault of Knowledge, and is the rappin' moniker of 23 year old Edmonton resident Omar Mouallem. Omar's a bit a renaissance man, working as a writer and journalist in order to pursue his love for hip hop the rest of the time. Although he isn't the best MC in a technical sense, he's smart and engaging and so the songs on If You Don't Buy This CD The Terrorists Win make for an enjoyable listen. The production is decent, but Omar commands centre stage as he address topics like religious self-discovery, un-requited love for coffee girls, wigroes or his Lebanese heritage. Growing up Lebanese in High Prairie, Alberta must have provided Omar with plenty of material, but he's a well-rounded dude that can address any number of topics. Worth checking if you're looking for some hip hop that's a little smarter and more thoughtful than your average rap album.

For today's final album we're going to visit the two provinces to the east of Alberta and check out the Winnipeg-based collective Deepcave and their collaboration with Saskatoon beatmaker Factor. The Deepcave crew consists of Big Bear, Royal-T, Lev, P-Nut, 40oz and DJ Poetics, and like the LBA, I wasn't familiar with any of these MC's beforehand, yet they all come very hungry with flows that range from traditional to anticon-inspired speed raps. But the styles all mesh quite well, providing a nice mix that keeps things fresh. There are also some quality guest appearances from LA's Awol One and Pegcity vet John Smith. Factor's beats are pretty tight, having their base in traditional boom bap sounds, but layering plenty of interesting sounds on top. All and all this album is 12 quality songs worth checking out.

Posted at 8:20 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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