UNITED NATIONS OF HIP HOP "Melting Pot" gets the heart racing by increasing the pace as the rapper's voice modulates up as the track moves, with manic transitions, and includes MCs from Germany (oskar ohlson, the track's lead, and winterismyname), the UK (the always perfectly fluid jamesphoney), Seattle (Filkoe), and France (Zoën).
SHARKS OR JETS? Saarland, Germany's Saarpreme deliver a great multi-MC aggressive blitzkreig in "Sturmfrei unter Brücken." It's all in German, of course, but I distinctly heard the words "West Side Story."
SIGNS THAT MOSHE'S MORE OF A SOFTIE THAN HE LETS ON The transition from Boston's partyboobytrap's "Yesterday Happened" through Roma's "Godspeed You Fellows" is epically sweet, from the melancholy lookback in sing-song delivery in the former to the instrumental heartbreak of the latter. I love the electric-guitar melody paired with the chiming piano chords and swelling keyboard single notes in "Godspeed."
ODE TO 40S AND BLUNTS Local Josiah Scribes continues his love affair with malt liquor in large bottles and dope rolled in cigar wrappers by shouting out to Colt 45, Dutch Master, Olde English, and Garcia Vega to open his deep-throated "Demented," which certainly does reference plenty of ways to become altered. Are we supposed to be shocked by the lifestyle described? This stuff is tame nowadays. But Scribes's delivery carries real power.
"CLASSIC" HIP HOP Michigan's Myn Dwun goes with the soaring strings and piano in the open to the classically influenced "Prelude in Me," complete with operatic rap, as though delivered always while inhaling, and doubled vocals like a double bass. Damn if this doesn't get the heart racing.
SPEED? WHO NEEDS SPEED? The French Substance M might turn in the most manic track of the compilation with "No Brain," a chaos-laden club banger that features great work on the tables and French rapping that just doesn't relent. Someone needs to find a futuristic dystopian movie to pair this with.
SEXY/SILLY DISTRACTION Probably the most fun you'll have on these discs, Gory Pussy just absolutely kills "Kitty's Got Claws." A sample? "I told the boys that my pussy is haunted, but it doesn't seem to matter, them fuckers still want it."
WAIT, THAT'S A ROCK SONG Local Vik44 lays out a tune in "Would She?" that wouldn't sound out of place on the next Loverless record, if not for the manufactured beat, with snarling electric guitar and a southern-fried repeat of "your smile drives me crazy." It even has a bridge, where the guitar and beat fight for superiority.
CLOSEST THING TO CRUNK "Pressure," featuring CVE Riddlore?, Nuvethad, Ngafsh, has some serious bounce. It may not be happy, per se, but this track would be seriously fun three or four Red-Bull-and-vodkas deep in the club.
THE REAL MAINE Nobody tells a story like A-Frame, and Mike Clouds backs him here with a haunting and simple melody line as he details a series of suicidal and methadone-addicted Mainers who shouldn't be too hard to recognize: "Tell the grandkids this year there'll be no Christmas."
Sam Pfeifle can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.