Friday, 2 May 2003

Album Review: Soundbombing Volume II

While the first Soundbombing mix album was a brilliant summary of the works of the Rawkus label, it was slightly blighted by DJ Evil D’s insistence in reminding the listener of his name every few seconds. The third in the series was released last year and sadly was of pretty average quality. In between the two came (predictably) Soundbombing II, a collection of wonderful mixing, intelligent MCs and mind-blowing production.

The track that most people will want to hear is Any Man by Eminem. All the hallmarks of an Eminem track are present: he disses his mother, raps about STDs and his daughter Hallie gets a mention. While the lyrics are pretty standard, Da Beatminerz production is superb making this Mathers’ best work to date.

Elsewhere, Pharoahe Monch’s tale of a renegade cop on the rampage on Mayor is simply awesome. Monch plays the part of a rebel policeman who goes on a murderous rampage in revenge for his father’s suspension from the force, “My last minutes on earth / drop say a prayer / fuck it if I’m gonna die / at least I shot the Mayor.” It’s a wonderfully weaved tale and the atmospheric strings make it all the more cinematic. The other standouts include 1-9-9-9 by Common and Sadat X, Brooklyn Hard Rock by Thirstin Howl III and A B-Boy Document 99 by The High & Mighty. The truth is though, there is not a single bad track on this collection.

While the tracks by Eminem and Mos Def will be the most listened to by fans of more traditional hip hop, there is one track on the album that overshadows all others. Company Flow’s Patriotism is frankly one of the most insane things I have ever heard. Reminding, yet again, exactly how much of a shame it is that they split after only two LPs. It’s a messy piece of conspiracy theory rhetoric, as Big Jus and EL-P bring the US government to task on several issues, "You don’t even know the chemicals you’ve ingested / urine tested / beat innocent man til he confesses” EL-P declares during the second verse. The light-speed rhymes are severely at odds with the hypnotic, “left, right, left, right” hook and the EL-P production is typically obtuse. Needless to say, fans of Company Flow really need to hear this track.

Soundbombing II is certainly the best of the three in the series. It is a perfect showcase of the Rawkus label at the height of its power. Not only are the tracks all great, special mention must be given to the Beat Junkies for mixing the tracks so well. Soundbombing II is a near-perfect mix album and one of the most impressive works in the Rawkus canon.

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