We Came From Beyond Volume 2

Various Artists
We Came From Beyond Volume 2
Razor & Tie

Is hip-hop dull? No less an authority than Outkast's André 3000 says so. "I'm not really a fan of hip-hop like I used to be," he recently told Spin. That vote of no-confidence is a real body blow for the genre, since André is the current king of all that's relevant in urban music, and his short statement speaks volumes about the music's current yawn-worthy state. Hip-hop is still capable of sparking a few creative jolts, though, and that's what KXLU DJ Mike Nardone has proved by hosting underground rappers on his We Came From Beyondshow over the past 15 years, some of the best of whom are preserved on this compilation. Most interesting here are the songs that juxtapose the seemingly unmatchable sensibilities of soft, urbane music with an MC's hardcore bluster. Take the People Under the Stairs track "Chollo Dad." The raps are hilarious, politically incorrect tales about dating the daughters of Original Gangsters. Surprisingly, they fit with the song's light, dreamy jazz keyboard lines. Orange County's Aloe Blacc hangs put-downs to a pushy lover onto a sophisticated soundtrack during "Not the One." But most of the music is feisty, and this CD's battling title goes to rapper Oh No with the track "What the Fuck." It's a one-two punch package of tough trumpets, percussion and angry insults, achieving what the current crop of mainstream hip-hop could never pull off—making belligerence sound like it comes straight from Muhammad Ali's mouth, not that meathead on the corner.

 
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