Akrobatik, Big Daddy Kane, Cannibal Ox, Crisis Center Productions, Kool Keith, Mass Influence, Oktober & Moist Crackers, Soulstice :: The Singles File Volume 018
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Feeling a chill in the air outside? Pulling that bubblegoose around your chest just a little tighter? Don't fret, even if your thermostat goes on the fritz RapReviews.com has a selection of hot new twelve inches in "The Singles File" to keep you warm. Of course there are always a few inferior logs that won't produce many BTU's on the fireplace, but hopefully this information will keep your aural hearth burning with the best value for your dollar!

Artist: Akrobatik
Title:  U Got It 12"
Label:  Detonator Records

One of the strongest representatives of Boston's underrated hip-hop scene, Akrobatik strikes gold again with this single. If the brownskin bombshell on the cover didn't attract you, put the wax to the stylus and listen to Ak rap the praises of a "woman who can stop traffic" over a killer DJ Fakts One track. Check out the unreleased bonus track "No Losses" though - it's worth the price of admission alone. D-Tension's haunting mix of pianoes, bass, and synth allow Akrobatik to wail the woes of a pressure packed rap industry where one wack song can instantly resign you to bargain bins and no radio play. Still, like the Keanu Reeves sample at the end of the song says, Ak lives by one motto: "Lose?! I don't lose! I'll win, I'll win! That's my job, that's what I do!!"

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10 TOTAL: 9 of 10

Artist: Big Daddy Kane
Title:  The Man * The Icon 12"
Label:  ALC Records

Big Daddy Kane was long overdue to release a new single and bring new heads unfamiliar with King Asiatic Nobody's Equal into the mix. The guest appearances on Big L and Eastern Conference All-Stars already had ears percolating, but this track is his strongest cup of java to date. Although one may wince at the line "get more Bucks than Milwaukee" his rhymes on the whole sound invigorated by the hot Alchemist beat, creating the atmosphere for him to zing lesser MC's attacks like "Somebody please call 911, but it won't be for Wyclef" and "That's what you call spitting? Well shit, I'ma vomit!" Sadly Kane didn't brew up a B-Side, just an acapella - but if you didn't already know, The Mack is BACK.

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 8.5 of 10

Artist: Cannibal Ox
Title:  The F Word 12"
Label:  Def Jux Records

Over a sonically dense El-Producto track with a heavy bassline, Cannibal Ox rapper Vast Aire breaks down the 'F' word all men hate to hear from females: friendship. An included RJD2 remix strips out the original's heavy overtones in favor of a guitar chorus that makes partner-n-rhyme Vordul sound like rock band Staind - but it's all to the good. The unreleased tracks "Metal Gear" and "Life's Ill" featuring Breezly Bruin nicely round out the flipside. With a little something for everyone, "The F Word" will please long-time fans and new jacks who just want to know what the fluck Cannibal Ox is all about.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 8 of 10

Artist: Crisis Center Productions
Title:  Volume One 12"
Label:  Crisis Center Recordings

When you debut in hip-hop you've got to hit HARD to make an impact, and Crisis Center does that instantly with the pounding beat of "The Hurt." Rapper/producer Undefined will instantly catch your ear while expert scratching by DJ Concept on the hooks is a definite plus. Witty rhymes like, "Yo I don't need but one verse to show rappers up; I'm like surgical enhancement - I blow rappers up" completes the mix. "Trick Photography" is a much less impressive musically though and "All I Hear Is" has an okay beat with an oft heard underground message - commercial rap trends suck. Overall though Crisis Center's product has a good chance of succeeding in the overcrowded field of independent hip-hop.

Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL: 7.5 of 10

Artist: Kool Keith
Title:  Thug or What? 12"
Label:  Easter Conference/Rawkus

Produced entirely by DJ Mighty Mi from The High & Mighty, this record singlehandedly sounds better than all of the songs on Kool Keith's "Spankmaster" LP combined. The B-Side contains the title track and "Back From the Pad" with instrumentals, while the reverse has the Smut Peddlers song "Stank MC's from their "Porn Again" album - a nice inclusion for the excellent Mighty Mi beat and Kool Keith guest verse. This single proves the theory true that when anybody but Kool Keith does Kool Keith's beats, Kool Keith is still an interesting rapper on the M-I-C.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL: 7.5 of 10

Artist: Mass Influence
Title:  The Science 12"
Label:  Deep Concentration Recordings

Atlanta sensations Mass Influence prove that sometimes, the best records just get back to the basics. Sounding like early 1990's era EPMD records like "Rampage" and "Brothers On My Jock" is strong praise indeed, but M.I. update it with 21st century rhymes and flows. The simple and energetic drum clap with snappy bass of "The Science" is impossible to resist, and "A-Yo! Atlanta Ya On" mixes in some subtle jazz touches that make the track a guaranteed head-nodder. You won't be mad at the guest rhymes of Jax and Flux, nor will you be vexed by anything on this single - a release with great potential to influence masses of listeners nationwide.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL: 7.5 of 10

Artist: Oktober & Moist Crackers
Title:  Heavy Jewels b/w In My Arms 12"
Label:  Fresh Chest Records

This twelve inch features two completely different artists on the Fresh Chest label: Oktober on one side, and Moist Crackers on the other. While producers JL and Johnny Cock attempt to audibly capture the sound of "Heavy Jewels" with repeated xylophone samples, Ok's rhymes remind me of the nasally white boy you snatch the mic away from in a cypher. "In My Arms" by Moist Crackers is somewhat ironic; despite the name, they are the true flavor of this single. Rapper JL is pleasantly reminiscent of Lexicon's Nick Fury, but Emcee Sick lives up to his name with a boring monaural flow nobody will check for more than once. An entire twelve inch of JL rapping and producing would have been tight - this release however is mediocre.

Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL: 5 of 10

Artist: Soulstice
Title:  The Reason 12"
Label:  OM Records

Funked out singing meets underground hip-hop's finest on this remix twelve inch from Soulstice. On "The Reason" DJ Spinna provides a slinky funk groove punctuated with the word "alright" while our singer du jour belts out the sensual words "I felt you.. before you even touched me." Girl, get your freak on! The J Boogie "Dubtronic" mix of "Illusion" is equally smooth and seductive, melodically pulling you into a trance until adding some speed to the chorus. This record combines the best parts of Portishead and Mary J. Blige together into an ill single which may not fit a traditional hip-hop mold but will definitely appeal to the open-minded funkateers of it's audience.

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL: 8.5 of 10

Originally posted: October 20, 2001
source: www.RapReviews.com