Compilations are a dime a dozen these days. I say this not to dog the all-star Day By Day Entertainment compilation "A Piece of the Action" but to express genuine concern over whether they will get a piece. I see dozens of these albums on racks at music stores, and there seems to be two or three more new ones every week. How do you make a compilation like this stand out from the crowd?
Good beats and good rhymes are certainly a place to start - and there are a lot on this CD even if the names will be unfamiliar to most "rap" fans out there today. Readers of URB and hip-hop heads unfairly (or fairly) labelled "backpackers" might recognize a few though: Emanon, Jugga the Bully, 4-Zone, and Paradigm among others. Some of the best songs come from names that are unknown even among THIS set. The lushly tropical sounds of mic.edu on "Backwards and Halfway" features rappers who sound like the best of Jurassic 5 and Latryx combined together. Moka Only's "Worth the Wait" is amusingly introspective and has an excellent self-produced beat "so I don't have to wait nor debate changin my mood" as Moka muses. Sankofa sounds like a mixture of 4-Zone and Awol One on "Stock Footage" and it works thanks to his energetic delivery and a punchy beat courtesy of Almighty. And don't be afraid to check out the riddims of Butta Babees on the "Toe to Toe" remix - they put ja-FAKIN-ass Miss Cleo to shame!
Almost no compilation gets away with having back to back non-stop dopeness from start to finish; and at 73 minutes long there was bound to be a few mediocre moments. Although Dept. of Rec's "Gonzoe of Stimmulation" starts out with a promising sample from the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" it fails to build on it and instead sounds like a bad copy of Eminem's drug-induced raps. Xtracts of Slang "How Does it Feel" is just a little too mellow. Isn't it bad when you make Puff Daddy sound animated by comparison? iCON the MicKing's "The End" starts out mocking Pharoahe Monch and then freely bites flow style from Project Blowidians like Abstract Rude and Aceyalone - BIG thumbs down on that one.
The best known artists on this compilation do not dissapoint - Lexicon's "Keep On Movin" bumps as does Takbir (from Styles of Beyond) on "Rhyminphiqxion" and Emanon on the dischordantly dope beats of "A List"; which actually starts out with a non-didactic "I don't do pharmaceuticals" rap - and with a beat that fat who would need anything else to get high? Jugga the Bully's self-produced beat sounds like Godzilla put through a grinder on "Corrupt" and as his rap proceeds more and more layers of music are added on. 4-Zone's "What U Do" has an uptempo jazz bassline and horn stabs worthy of any hot MC, and extra props to DJ Cheapshot on throwing in the "Ain't No Half Steppin'" sample on the chorus.
So will this compilation grab a piece of the sales action and show up on SoundScan in stores? It's hard to say - maybe, maybe not. But as far as indie gold (10,000 units or more) goes, this album should easily be able to chalk up a success. With only a few moments of mediocrity and plenty of head-nodding beats to keep these up-and-coming rap artists flowing, this compilation is perfect for fans of cutting edge raps or good hip-hop music in general. If you're not afraid of being labelled a backpacker, grab "A Piece of the Action" for yourself and see what Day By Day Enterainment got cooking up.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: July 17, 2001