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Compilation; no rating given.

“Bring back/what hiphop lacks/with lyrical contact.” Thus the lyrics of a 10 year-old on Chick Tha Supah Latin & Fam’s “Contact”. Modern mainstream hip-hop, for all the beauty and precision of modern production, for all the musicianship of the ubiquitous Kanye West, for all the girl-friendly club beats, is severly lacking in one of its key original attractions: raw, unpredictable, in-your-face energy. This collection of tracks showcasing hip-hop’s currently neglected 5th element, beatboxing, certainly provides a welcome serving of organic contact and rough textures back to your ear, but it’s also a great introduction for those who want to find out all the forms that beatboxing can take, and a wake up call for those who’ve been sleeping on some of the truly amazing talents the scene has to offer.

Indeed, whilst The Roots’ Scratch still amazes with his vocal scratching and cavernous bass on “Start’n’ From Scratch”, lesser (or un-) known artists steal the show. Kmillion blasts his way through “Grindin’” as well as loads of oldschool beats in truly fresh style on “Heat Rocks”, before starting to backwards loop himself. Rising beatbox phenom B-Shorty conjures an entire triphopesque track with beats, scratching, bass and (polyphonic) Arabian chanting from his mouth on “Category 3: Versatility”, whilst Kris Jung’s fun “Liquid Butterfly” peppers rock guitar fireworks with high-speed vocal percussion and Chile Diaz’s “Peruddha” features startling, glass-like pan flute imitation over scat pyrotechnics.

Yeah, that damn Knight Rider noise does crop up a few too many times, yes, there’s a puzzling absence of some beatboxing giants (Rahzel, Doug E Fresh, Killa Kela – all absent), yup, some of the rapping isn’t of a very high standard and detracts from rather than adds to the beatboxing, and yo, putting anyone up against Q-Bert’s scratching is just asking for trouble. But for anyone who isn’t satisfied with Timbaland going “wikki, wikki”, this is a solid, enjoyable collection with some great surprises to damage your jeep speakers with.

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