Hydroponic Sound System, Nick Nack, Strange Fruit Project, Headkrack & the Are, Word Association, Adlib, Beneb & Nt Wt, Ross Hogg, B-Cause, E-40, Keak da Sneak, Federation Frontline, Turf Talk, Messy Marv, and San Quinn
Reviewed by Robert Gabriel, Fri., Feb. 4, 2005
Call it what it is, creative hip-hop from Texas, or better yet, Southern Borders Soul Music (Alternate Take). Either way, Hydroponic Sound System formulates the blueprint. Based out of Dallas, the production team of Skinny Fresh and Rube brokers rap collaborations that make perfect sense. On this, their third vinyl EP, Hydro offers a self-explanatory instrumental titled "Percy Keeps His Disco Dubby" as well as a remix of the well-worn local favorite "(bah-voo)." Tracks from Austin's NickNack, Waco's Strange Fruit Project, and the Dallas-Houston combo of Headkrack & the ARE construct yet another monument to the gods of Third Coast resourcefulness. In San Marcos, a collective known as Word Association furthers true school aesthetics with bare-boned beats matched with heartfelt verbiage. Adlib's Soul Proprietor (BreakFluid) illustrates the hunger of an underground artist striving to be heard beyond the usual empty bar: "Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick, sometimes I rhyme for some stoned dude and a drunk chick." Austin's Tuner Control DJ duo of Beneb & Nt Wt apply hip-hop production techniques to an improbable assortment of gnarly rock songs by way of their Air Raid Volume 2 mix CD (www.turntablelab.com). Whether supplementing punk classics like Fugazi's "Waiting Room" with an extra drum track or creating a seamless blend between Sonic Youth's "Bull in the Heather" and Smashing Pumpkins' "1979," the trans-genre concept works effectively. Former Austin MC Ross Hogg has over time converted himself into a successful Bay area DJ specializing in dancehall reggae. Equally interested in the recent resurgence of Bay area rap, his mix CD collaboration with B. Cause titled Slump & Grind (available at www.italselection.com) showcases the underestimated prowess of E-40, Keak da Sneak, Federation, Frontline, Turf Talk, Messy Marv, and San Quinn in all its hyphy splendor.