In a parallel universe, Rawkus Records continued their “Soundbombing” series of compilations and are now readying volume thirteen for release in 2023. As dreamy as that scenario may well be, you do occasionally receive records that aren’t far from that reality, and Europe is often the location for many of these records. Germany’s SoulRocca is actually a combination of production duo SoulBrotha (Boogiedown Base and 12 Finger Dan) and Munich producer Roccwell – hence SoulRocca. “In Good Company” is self-explanatory by name, and self-explanatory by nature – boasting a blend of underground hip-hop stalwarts and unknowns over some immaculate interpretations of the Rawkus Records era of New York hip-hop. Shabaam Sahdeeq’s “Every Rhyme I Write” is in the DNA of QNC’s “Classic Position” with its piano-pounding instrumental, but it’s names like QNC that make you realize how much hip-hop aches for artists like Q-Ball and Curt Cazal.
One of the greatest emcees to ever do it (who never gets his flowers) is J-Live, and he’s back on “Real Recognize Real” which would sit snugly on any of his classic LPs (“The Best Part”, “All of the Above”). It’s not his best piece of writing, but his style is so effortless and down-to-earth it’s hard not to like him, let alone the beat. If you do sleep on this record, make sure to set your alarm to M-Dot’s “Toil”, as it possesses a beat designed to raise the dead. Guru, Rakim, and Inspectah Deck all get scratched in for a predictably fanboy-appeasing hook, but it’s difficult not to nod along with a smile on your face.
The rest of the project is serviceable enough, benefiting hugely from the chopped sample approach by SoulRocca. Resolute’s “Checkmate” is littered with further homework for the hip-hop heads (I’ll give you AZ, but the rest I want on a paper and submitted by next Tuesday), and Wildelux’s “Beastin'” is executed better than some of the other no-names, but the album could have been improved with some superior emcees. The best beat is also on the “Intro”. As it is, SoulRocca’s “In Good Company” is a slickly produced selection of hip-hop likely to get a certain type of fan fiending for more of that so-called real hip-hop that the likes of Rawkus represented back in the day. Some of the emcees here don’t quite stack up to those memorable “Soundbombing” records of yesteryear, but it’s an understandable dip given how far the genre has expanded since the 1990s and the fact elite emcees seem less likely to drop bars over glorified boom-bap. Although Elzhi did a dope track with France’s Meeco called “Back in the Day” (2021) that captures a similar vibe. A bit more of that level of emcee, and SoulRocca are more than capable of crafting their own series of compilations.