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17 March, 2003@12:00 am

“I rep the underground sound like C.H.U.D. with headphones” – C Rayz Walz

Now there’s a visual for you: Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers with buds in their ears, eyes glowing red from weed smoke, heads nodding to some grimy East Coast shit. Whether or not your imagination inserts DJ-JS1′s Ground Original into their portables is irrelevant; I only brought up C.H.U.D. for use as a segue anyway. Cheap tricks aside, Yosumi’s latest compilation does indeed boast a line-up of the underground’s biggest monsters – and a few Hip-Hop legends, to boot.

Involving himself in every aspect of what is his debut full-length, JS1 not only kills it on the 1′s and 2′s, but also teams up with The Controllers’ Dub-L (Music For Earthworms) in producing the bulk of Ground Original’s tracks. Unfortunately, bulk doesn’t mean all, as Domingo, Shan Boogs, Ric Rude, Prince Poetry, and Kno kick in their own beats, a bad thing only because their contributions break up the dark atmosphere established by JS1 and Dub-L, resulting in a bit of unevenness. However, where Ground Original falters in consistency, it makes up for in straight bangers.

Suiting the collaborative nature of the project, content is mainly battle and punchline oriented – you’ll certainly feel like your ears got boxed after lines like “You pussies haven’t been fresh since your last pap smear.” Highlights on the braggadocio tip include Evidence, Pep Love, and React joining the C.H.U.D. and gynecology referencing C Rayz on the eerie “Nowadayz”; Boston’s Akrobatik getting open on the hyped “Ak Like U Want It”; L.I.F.E. Long and Immortal Technique’s salute to JS1 on the majestic “Audio Technician”; and the always deadly combination of Dice Raw and Rahzel on the appropriately-titled “Spontaneous Combustion Freestyle”. Of the few non-battle tracks, top honors go to Masta Ace’s simply-dope concept joint “What Am I? Pt. 1″ (“I’m not shooting hoops with niggas / I’m not friendly / It’s too bad because I do have a little ball in me”). For a lot of heads though, the best part of the album will be hearing the return to form of veterans OC, Prince Po, Percee-P, Skoob (Das EFX), and Special Ed (even X-Clan overseer Professor X makes an appearance). OC sounds especially nice over the beautiful piano notes of “Beyond”; also noteworthy is Percee-P’s blazing verse on “Unstoppable”.

It’s ironic that Ground Original’s primary weakness is a lack of cohesion considering JS1 emphatically states that it’s a compilation and not a mixtape. Regardless of how the songs are sequenced though, it’s still a fine collection of dope lyrics, beats, and scratches, which is really all you could ask for in any Hip-Hop album. For best listening, play it on random setting; it’ll be good neck exercise as you wait for JS1 to bring you to the next level.

  Mixtape D.L.
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