This compilation has a twist – it’s probably the first time a label has ever specifically tried to build a parity between American and Canadian artists together on one record. And when you first glance at the line-up for this album the shit looks hot: Celph Titled, Jugga (the Bully) and Tack-Fu among others – all respected in the underground.

Unfortunately, the Canadian/American angle isn’t this album’s only twist. Once you remove the shrinkwrap and look at the liner notes it becomes clear all four tracks by Celph Titled are just interludes with no raps. Now the beats on these interludes are slamming because Celph always reps to the fullest behind the boards but he’s equally as ill ON THE MICROPHONE and has flexed these skills with everyone from Apathy to Louis Logic to the Walkmen. The listing on the back cover of this CD is therefore to say the least misleading. Even without mentioning they were instrumental they should have at least said they were only interludes and not full length songs. Blame the label, not Celph.

At least four more of these tracks are music only – three interludes by Anonymous Twist and a slamming (previously released) “Swan Dive” beat by Tack-Fu. This compilation continues to get more ironic though since these interludes and beats are the best thing this compilation has to offer. The misguided El-Producto-esque flows of rappers such as Sixtoo and Omegatron on “Reality of Birth” are bad enough but the DJ Moves beat completely buries it in mediocrity. If you’re gonna be esoteric and verbose to the point you can’t flow you’d BETTER back it up with some nice music. They shoulda called Celph for a remix.

There are a few nice tracks, lyrically speaking. Well-known underground hero Jugga (the Bully) represents nicely on “Atlantis” with a beat that really sounds aquatic while he tones down his normally menacing voice and flow to something just above a whisper – it’s an ill effect. The solo track by Moka Only (the bio points out his crew was featured on Len’s “You Can’t Stop the Bumrush”) is an amusingly twisted ode to sexuality where DJ Moves comes halfway back to credibility with a slow-flowing deep bass groove. It’s hard not to enjoy “Episodic Melodies” by Toronto’s own The Goods too – he’s pretty fly for a white guy.

The problem with this compilation is not the concept but their execution of it. There’s too many mediocre, limp-beat, poorly mixed songs like “Quite Types” by Paul Mok or just generally cheesy material like “Honorable Mentions” by Sethro. DJ Moves appears too often and contributes too little on beats, and Celph Titled was completely misused throughout this album – his fat beats serving only to break up a lot of monotony. A lot more of Tack-Fu and Jugga and a lot less of cats like Obe One and Planet Pea (who owes hip-hop an apology for having the temerity to sample KRS-One) would move this from bargain bin status to being worth owning. A lot of talented artists are dragged down in this quagmire.

Various Artists :: Black Sunz Compilation
5Overall Score