Southbound, MC Overlord, Crew 54, Xrabit + DMG$, Nemesis, and Phranchyze
Reviewed by Chase Hoffberger, Fri., May 22, 2009
MC OverlordLast Call (Vallejo Music Group)
Xrabit + DMG$Hello World (Big Dada)
NemesisWhen the Day Brakes
PhranchyzeErrybody Hates Me!!
Southbound brothers Lowkey and Sandman dive right in on infectious debut EP Seasons Change. The two spit fire ("Even concrete reflects when it rains, so even the hardest cats will shed a tear if confronted with pressure and pain") atop Matt Schad's slummin' cutups, while also getting the best out of Da C.O.D.'s Mr. Greezo on scorcher "That Ain't Right" and Dred Skott's Esbe the Bully ("Sex in Da Morning") and Reggie Coby, who shows up everywhere from the title track to album highlight "Italia Blue." MC Overlord's boast of being the "nine-time hip-hop artist of the year, first to ever use a live band" and his ill-timed insertion of "All I Want for Christmas Is a Black President" make the decorated local sound a bit dated on the A.J. Vallejo-produced Last Call. Overlord's homages ("Pops," "Kid Brotha") and brags ("Still Not Over") fail to hit a mark "The Flow" once set. Killeen duo Crew54 spreads the wealth on digital download/street release Crew Deep, getting "nasty as a Ray J sex tape" ("Get Up") over Parr Beats' production ("Therapy") and Remax's GOOD Music-evoking "Keep Shining." Houston affiliate V-Zilla and ATX ally Alpha 20/20 bring the heat on "Knocking Doors Down" and "Feel Me," respectively, but Crew Deep tops off at the tail end with Bavu Blakes reeling in the "Good Day." Seems like every day's a good one for Dallas hipster duo Damaged Good$, who gets lifted on Hello World by London electro-hop producer Xrabit and sizzurp from "Cheese." Riffing straight comedy on "Party in My Pants" and "Ferris Bueller" ("Shitty shitty bang bang, go 'head and let them nuts hang"), Coool Dundee and Theodore keep it close to the style that Chicago's Cool Kids have taken national while still flipping "some Dirty South shit." Former RX Family centerpiece Ramon Ramirez's latest project with Nemesis proves that postcollege slacker raps still have a pulse in the ATX. When the Day Brakes, a lo-fi soul stirrer ("Sweet Suite Love") and bilingual tongue twister ("Beast Made, Again"), is available for download on www.ramonramirezandassociates.com. Battle rap-tested Phranchyze drops "Fresh Shit" on Errybody Hates Me!! with the typical bravado, the Austin native holding down the live music capital ("Love Me Back") over David McCallum's "The Edge" as he fills sneaker quotas ("Customs"). The diverse array of beats from Rapid Ric overmatches Phranchyze's choppy flow on "P-H-R-A-N," but dude's funny.