Music preview: Soundbombing III

The third release in this series of New York underground hip-hop samplers features new material by Mos Def, Missy Elliott, the Roots and others. Listen in.

Topics: Music

Music preview: Soundbombing III

Soundbombing III
Various Artists

Rawkus Records

What do Eminem and Mos Def have in common, besides highly anticipated acting debuts? Both the Detroit-based shock-rapper (appearing in Curtis Hanson’s upcoming film “8 Mile”) and the progressive Brooklyn-born M.C. (onstage in Broadway’s “Topdog/Underdog”) were introduced to wider audiences early in their careers through appearances on Rawkus Records’ “Soundbombing” series.

The third release in the New York indie’s series of literate underground hip-hop samplers follows where its successful predecessors left off. The surprisingly cohesive “Soundbombing III” brings established M.C.s together with lesser-known artists in inventive hip-hop collaborations. And don’t be surprised if some of the talented rappers introduced on this record end up making it big, too.

Skillz makes the most of a funky Hi-Tek beat and a Missy Elliott cameo in “Crew Deep.” Kool G Rap remixes his own melodic “My Life” with the help of hardcore M.C.s Capone-N-Noreaga. The rest of the record is a who’s who of great hip-hop, with appearances by Method Man, Q-Tip, the Beatnuts, the Roots and Talib Kweli.

Three tracks stand out, however. The guitar crunch of Mos Def’s “Freak Daddy” raises expectations for the long-awaited debut album from his hard-rock band, Black Jack Johnson. In “Yelling Away,” Common and Kweli rap over the sweet Senegal-via-Belgium vocals of Zap Mama. And on the record’s opener, “The Life,” a jaunty declaration of independence with darker undertones, underground rapper Styles P. joins with Pharoahe Monch in an ode to their favorite occupation: “My life is all I have, my rhymes, my pen, my pad.” It’s a fitting lead-in to a record from a label whose artists have always focused as much on the message of their lyrics as the power of their beats.

Styles P. & Pharoahe Monch: “The Life”
Audio: Real Audio
Duration: 3:47

Dan Kois is a writer and a fiction editor of At Length magazine.

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