In the interest of avoiding any appearance of impropriety, it should be noted right up front that my relationship with at least one of the artists on “Underground Hip-Hop Volume 07” is more than just professional. Canadian hip-hop legend Perfeck Strangers. I have to come clean like Jeru and say I host to review a good project with an even hand. If and when the day comes where he ever starts putting out bullshit (I don’t see it coming) we’ll talk.

The Perfeck Strangers song “Ghetto” is certainly worthy of inclusion on “Underground Hip-Hop Volume 07” regardless, a humorous look at a “mindset that’s monumental (like) trying to hide a tiny pimple on her back with the tat of a Chinese symbol” or “that cat with shiny rims on his car (but) he’s got an empty tank.” That’s not to say other rappers haven’t done this theme themselves many times (and immediately Bishop comes to mind), but Dan and Promise have natural chemistry and they’re riding to a funky beat that makes the cypher complete. Talent is not in short supply on this URBNET Records compilation though. You can also find the sardonic and sullen poetical kingpin D-Sisive finding humor in misery while keeping his Canadian rap hat on for “No More Words”:

“Another 15 minutes in my biopic
Joachim, give those whiskers a tiny trim
Put this took on, and start rhymin in a higher pitch
Tell Affleck it’s time to film
We only got one take, roll sound
I’m drownin in a river outside of the Viper
While fleein Winona Ryder’s ex
Sing about Stipe, like, whichever Phoenix you’re a fan of
Wolfgang, rock me Amadeus
Decisive, swan song, sing one
I’m tired, time to go to bed
Brian Wilson”

The upside and downside of this compilation is that so many of the songs featured here have already been bigged up in other reviews from this label. That’s great if you never picked up DJ Cosm’s “Time and Space,” because the Ghettosocks and Prince Po collabo’ “No Reason” is more than worth a second look. The same can be said for Sweatshop Union’s “Bill Murray,” and we’ve previously featured Rel!g!on’s “Classical Music” track on an episode of The Hip-Hop Shop. In fact that can be said of many songs on this album, because we have a strong relationship with URBNET, and they often send us songs to feature podsafe free with no strings attached – we definitely appreciate that and the listeners no doubt do too. For me though a lot of this album isn’t new.

That shouldn’t stop first time listeners from appreciating the quality hip-hop beats and rhymes on this 52 minute long compilation in any way. Moka Only’s “Industrial Ave.” is a typically dusty and meandering Moka track, which is meant entirely as a compliment to his unconventional production and rap style. Timbuktu’s “Rock Radio” is a boom bap banger with a Northern touch, California cult favorite Declaime ends up in the mix with M.E.D. on “The Great Smoke Out,” and Animal Nation’s pleasantly puzzling recursive rap “The Blank Page (Writing About Writing)” is an examination of how a rapper can paint himself into a corner of writer’s block. You may not know names like Noah23 & Krem going into “New Dawn,” but you’ll want to be checking for them coming back out. Guinness Book of World Records may even want to clock the tongue speed. Like previous compilations this edition finds a standard of quality and holds it, not deviating greatly from it, but smartly not dropping disappointingly below it either. Enjoy.

Various Artists :: Underground Hip-Hop Volume 07
7Overall Score