Jesse Ferguson, don’t know him? Well, many of you may not know the name right off the top, but he has been overseeing the creative direction of Definitive Jux as label manager for some time now. Still don’t know him? DJ Ese, know him now? This is the guise that Ferguson takes on when he moonlights as the main producer for his own Brooklyn based Embedded imprint. Ah, that sounds better, right? It’s been awhile since The Bedford Files dropped, but Ese is back again and has rounded up some of underground hip-hop’s finest with the release of Side Two.
At first glance, the lineup for Side Two is pretty star studded (from an underground standpoint). Murs, Aesop Rock, Cool Calm Pete and others make this compilation look as if it is going to be one to remember. But you got to have more than just emcees to create an ill compilation. The beats have got to match the caliber of emcees or else the ship goes down.
Side Two is quite a see saw ride throughout. When the meshing of producer and emcee works, it works very well. Murs leaps into the thumping “D-Day” to sprinkle his appreciation for the Dominican chicks across the nation. Cool Calm Pete also jumps forth with his trademark flow on “Fight Song”. Pete may be one of the more underrated emcees to come along in awhile as he breezes effortlessly through the sparse handclaps and cackling drums.
There are some moments where the beat and the emcee just don’t do the trick. Loer Velocity’s “Rumble” just isn’t up to snuff while the title track featuring Aesop Rock & Babbletron sounds like it should be incredible, but the synth-ed out production drowns out any promise that the union could possibly have. Even Zion I have seen better beats as “Running Man” proves to be too simplistic in comparison to some of the production that Amp Live has provided in the past.
Side Two may provide a who’s who of the underground. but doesn’t provide enough ‘umph’ from a production standpoint to make heads turn off their radios and scour the web for some of these unheralded artists. Sure there are some tracks that give it to you raw, but when you line yourself up with all-stars you can’t slip up one bit. Solid as it may be, Side Two needs to deliver much more than a solid product in a day where many acts coming up are solid as well.
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