various artists :: Uprok Records Mixtape Volume One :: Uprok Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

Time to wheel up and rewind at Uprok Records. In the span of just a little bit more than a year, the Seattle-based hip-hop label has left a strong impression with releases by artists such as Ill Harmonics, DeepSpace5, Tunnel Rats, Raphi, Freddie Bruno, Mars ILL, New Breed and KJ-52. In the tradition of adding some extra credibility to your achievements by letting a DJ channel them through his nimble fingers, they invited DJ Allstar from Indiana's Wax Musim crew to host the CD. Unlike some popular DJ's, though, Allstar lets the music do the talking.

And indeed this is music that doesn't have to be announced vociferously because it speaks for itself. Gathering some of Uprok's strongest material from 2002 as well as offering some glimpses into the future, the "Uprok Mixtape Volume 1" proves to be a smooth ride from beginning to end, with DJ Allstar being firmly in control of the wheels of steel and only turning the knobs necessary. Some people might complain that the mix does not feature enough turntable trickery, however, let us remind ourselves that this is not DJ Allstar's but Uprok's time to shine. Which is exactly what collectively gets achieved here, revealing that it's been an impressive run for this stronghold of conscious hip-hop.

The greatest thing about this label is that they continually put out music of such an uplifting nature. Music meaning above all else the music itself, what you intuitively react to before your other brain half begins to rationalize what your ears pick up. These catchy, vibrant, upbeat somethings that we refer to as tracks, beats, etc. Add a roster of contagiously enthusiastic MC's, and people will have no choice but to take notice. It seems that Uprok has found a way of creating dope hip-hop that caters both to the core hip-hop audience as well as anyone open to feelgood music that carries a positive message. In fact, since we're speaking mixtapes, the final step to perfection would be one of these songs appearing on someone else's mixtape. Not one by likeminded people like DJ Maj (whose "Full Plates" mix-CD also included Uprok joints), but regular mixtape architects. Something has gone terribly wrong if that hasn't already happened.

Uprok Records may feel duped that their spiritual background gets mentioned yet again in a review as they are well aware that some potential listeners will likely be turned off, but fact is that their rappers, even though they put skills first when it comes to the execution of their music, clearly put God first in their lives. The "Uprok Mixtape" is last but not least a testament to this very attitude. Besides, it's definitely time to compliment the label on their effort to break out of the ghetto of Christian hip-hop and still remain true to themselves. If you haven't already had the pleasure, then this CD is the place to start, since it comes at the amazingly low price of only $4.99 and supposedly contains 12 coupons for discounts on other Uprok Records releases, so you too can collect them all.

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

Originally posted: January 21, 2003