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1 January, 2000@12:00 am

 Mixtape master Tony Touch, best known for his 50 MC freestyle mixtapes, steps into the major leagues with The Piece Maker. Tommy Boy backs Tony’s first legal mixtape, and in the process, Mr. Tony Toca taps just about everyone to represent with original selections.
The album is made up of all new material, some of which feature Tony collaborating with the artists, others simply new tracks donated by the big boys. Most impressive is the Flipmode Squad’s “Set It On Fire”. While Shok’s strings are of the typical Ruff Ryders variety, the ferocity of the Squad is undeniable, and hits a peak when Shok adds the effect of a needle dragging across a record. Rah Digga  providing the hook, along with the Busta adlibbing and the rest of the crew chanting, “Let’s set it on fire!” makes this one the sure shot. Another favorite comes from Tony & Doo Wop, on “Return Of The Diaz Brothers”. Tony’s production combines African drums, with a twist of Latino flavor, which compliments his laid back Spanglish flow nicely. Topping it off is Pain In Da Ass, as usual, doing a hilarious Scarface impersonation, with a wanna be Frank Sosa backing him up. Hot off the heels of this track is “No, No, No”, which compliments it’s predecessor perfectly, as Tony joins Heltah Skeltah and Starang Wondah of O.G.C.. Meanwhile contributions from Cypress Hill and Mos Def & De La Soul keep the Spanish hip-hop vibe running throughout.

The best thing about The Piece Maker is its consistency. It seems like nobody fronted when Tony asked them to bring some heat. NYC staples such as Gang Starr bring the Tony Toca tribute The Piece Maker, while D.I.T.C. brings “The Club” and the Wu-Tang Clan delivers “The Abduction”. D12 & Eminem bring the Alchemist produced “Get Back”, while the Likwit Crew shows off “Likwit Rhyming”.

While Tony hits a few speed bumps on tracks like “I Wonder Why”, (featuring Total), the letdown “Class Of ’87″, and “P.R. Allstars”, among a few others, but the majority of this album is top notch. And even while the album isn’t actually blended together, the layout of the tracks is done very well, building momentum, just as a mixtape should. Hopefully this is the first in a series of strong albums from Tony Toca.

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