Verbal Seed, MC Overlord, DJ Chicken George, and Paradox

Beatbox

Texas Platters

Waco's Verbal Seed dives headlong into a soil previously cultivated by artists of the Okayplayer ilk. Nourished by the soulful production of Symbolyc One of Strange Fruit Project, Afronauts (Black Son Records) reaches out to fellow Texans, including Bavu Blakes and Kay of the Foundation as it wafts an aroma of true-school intelligence. The high point sprouts when Verbal Seed MCs Focus, One Self Salaam, and Tree trade verses with Damien and Big $ Mic of the Legendary K-O in a graphic traversing of the "239 Miles" between Houston and Dallas. Austin mainstay MC Overlord returns with The Black Theory (VMG/Resurrection), maintaining his status as the city's most visible meat-and-potatoes lyricist. While Overlord's rhymes impress when his grounded perspective reveals the all-too-common scenario of "broke with three jobs and the cops still tail me," his platform just might have been borrowed by singer Ter'ell Shahid on album tracks, including "My Homey" and "Mamma Said." Meanwhile, local DJs Crash and Panda make the most of their cameos, as do MCs Tee Double and Bavu Blakes. DJ Chicken George follows suit with an impeccable blend of Eighties rap staples titled CG Classics: Homage to Hip-Hop Volume 1. From Run DMC and Doug E. Fresh to more obscure acts, including MC Shan and Joeski Love, George puts a little lighthearted fun back in the mix. Branching off from his rap roots in Denver, recent Austin transplant Paradox puts forth a solo album that may be a little too smart-alecky for its own good. While Hiatus (Voicebox Records) certainly produces its fair share of skillfully assembled cuts, a white dude imploring everyone else in hip-hop to get over race as an issue of distinction will surely fall on deaf ears.

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