No, this isn't the theological rap supergroup you've been pining for. Portishead's Geoff Barrow, d/b/a Fuzzface, is but one of many cooks — 35, by one count — in the kitchen of Quakers, a deep-groove, deep-thought hip-hop collaborative debuting on the venerable Stones Throw label. The roster is mostly lesser-known emcees (Dead Prez and the Pharcyde's Booty Brown are the closest here to star power), and the vibe is partly cloudy and decidedly anti-pop. Along with 7-Stu-7 (Portishead's engineer) and Katalyst, Barrow wields beats that oscillate between rubbery funk ("Smoke"), modern synth ("Jobless"), Stax-esque grooviness ("What Chew Want"), and free-form weirdness ("Russia with Love"). Comprising 41 tracks, each running no longer than two minutes, Quakers is like something Guided by Voices would do if they made indie hip-hop: scatterbrained and riddled with past influences. As dense and diggable as it may be, however, its sheer quantity of intel and change-ups can be euphorically overwhelming. As Guilty Simpson boasts in "Fitta Happier" (atop a brass-band Radiohead sample, no less), "Lot of rappers got one style/Me? I got numerous."
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