Houston rapper Nosaprise channels the powers of his lost legends, inscribing The Book of the Dead, Vol. 1 by laying down a set of lyrics over tracks made famous by deceased icons like Keith Murray, J Dilla, and Notorious B.I.G. ("Ready to Die"). Tight-lipped, with a tenor pitch that bites Big L, the literary rapper's got us eager to hear that next batch. MSG Crew maestro Clemits raps from the same pedestal he's long perched atop on this year's Skeleton Crew, maintaining a shaky flow ("Boutique Shop," "Hard Days Night") over two-dimensional beats that lose their grip by "Never Alone" in the seven spot. "Sucks to see something raw watered down and sold out/Makes my soul hurt, but it's common now," he raps on "Group Therapy." Tell me about it. Same could be said for guttural dirt bucket Dubb Sicks, whose Beauty From Without asks, "Where Were You the Night 6th St. Blacked Out?" amidst tracks about getting blacked out on Sixth Street ("Here I Go Again"). Dude's still got his Mind in the Gutter from when he first stepped onto the ATX scene five years ago, and the only thing that's changed is the grime's five years thicker ("Sixth Street Bar Fight") and the filthy flow's five years filthier ("My Nuts & My City"). Beauty From Without boasts highs though: "Colder" and "Grown Man Ish" both find the longtime battle rapper "Searching for Greatness." Getting "Wasted" alongside Dubb Sicks is Houston transplant LSD, whose Chimera LP packs a "Texas Chopper" from the decks of local producer Hades, one of the better young beatmakers in the city. Recorded over the span of one long, hazy night, the six-song collection showcases a young rapper who's skilled at going quick but could use a change-up track. Time to channel that "Message From the Soul."
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