El-P, Beans, Diverse, Mr. Lif, and Jean Grae

Beatbox

Phases and Stages

Underground hip-hop has become streets readily roamed, part of the plan known as Urban Renewal (Chocolate Industries). Grounded in an open-minded coalition of collaborative artists that includes Mos Def, Mr. Lif, Tortoise, and DJ Food, saturated in tweaked-out production from Prefuse-73 and RJD2, this aggressively experimental sound sampler is here one minute, out in the streets the next. It's warmed up to the Fantastic Damage supplied by indie hip-rock Def Jux entrepreneur El-P, who, armed with a "Deep Space 9mm," slangs space-aged symphonics that pound like garbage men emptying the Dumpster at 5am -- in a good way. While we're wallowing in the future, let's borrow some Beans from the defunct and beloved Anti-Pop Consortium. Chanting like a mod pagan trapped in a futuristic game of Galaxian, the red-cocked rock star doesn't merely shoot out FXs, he tears through every option on the Frooty Loop tool bar. What comes up, is an undigested gob of "Booga Sugar" a cappellas and wha-wha whapping "Sickle Cell Hysteria," which brings us the sounds from Tomorrow Right Now (Warp). Back to reality and dilemmas of the daily grind, "a glimpse into the struggle" "live from the plantation," capitalistic earth. Here we find the probing mind of Mr. Lif as I Phantom (Def Jux), unleashing punch lines about the cruel cyclical life, death, and socialization of every unhappy 40-hour worker. A four-track EP is all it takes for Chicago's Chocolate Industry MC Diverse to prove he has a bright future in the overpopulated occupation of mic gripping. Working with a flow that can compete with cameos like Lyrics Born, D does his thing, vibing heavily on turf that's jazzily tremendous, especially at 1am (Chocolate Industries). Tremendous is just the verbiage for new queen of hip-hop, Ms. Jean Grae. No consoling necessary here, she can be sensual at times, other times sensitive, but beware, because overall she's raw -- blunt and fully original, sometimes vulgar, poetic. Showing all sides of what women are, The Attacking of the Attacking Things -- The Dirty Mixes (Third Earth Music) dominates with intimate journal entries, candid conversations via Telephono, and a Fugee flow highlighted by romantic moods from Mr. Len, Da Beatminerz, and Masta Ace. I only wish I had stars to give, 'cause Attack of the Attacking Things deserves the sky. (Biz 3 Showcase: Venue, Friday, March 14, 8pm-midnight)

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