Street Life In Zoo York      
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written by Philip Oliver    
As this is the last album from quest its good to see them go out while they still got some dignity in the rap game unlike some artists who just churn out one crap record after another. Despite previous reviews we quickly have to make this album a classic, just like the source with biggies last album. Quest are one of my favourite groups of all time and to see them split after 10 years is seeing a part of hip hop die along with them. Maybe they'll make another album somewhere down the line but for now its pretty definite that What is it about European only hip hop compilations? The quality blows the competition out of the water (not that there is much competition, in the States at least). First we had 'NY state of Rhyme' then 'Super rappin' and now we have this, can a hat trick be scored? In short, nearly. Before I hit the review let me give you the lowdown on this compilation, its out on the Master Dance Tones record label and pias have taken up on distribution (they also release J5 material so they got a good rep) and contains a track listing that could have you saying 'who?' when you look at it but don't let that put you off. Its basically a collection of 14 established underground tracks with emcees hooking up with some more familiar producers, you got E Double, the Beatnuts, DJ Spinna and even Marley hitting us with the sonic backdrops as well as a few more like Vic and Mike Heron.

The album opens with Kamakazee's 'Snakes' which is produced by Marley Marl, I've heard Marley come off with some real nice beats but this is nothing special and I wouldn't have picked this as the opener. If you ain't familiar with Kamakazee they got a ruff type flow, one of 'em is almost off beat in their pace but they go back and forth nicely, pity this didn't have a great beat. Screwball is up next with the previously heard 'Cookies and Cream', ya know this track and its definitely on point, which leads me onto the second track that Screwball hits us with. 'On Point' was also released last summer but here its in digital form and it sounds better than ever, Mike Heron hooks up a nice Beatnuts type loop. Screwball appears once again for the third time on 'They wanna know why?' but its not as good as the other 2 appearances here but don't sleep just because of this let down watch out for them this summer cos they also been working with primo. Erick Sermon steps up with Powerule on 'Rock ya knot quick' and he comes with something similar to the LOD / Keith murray sound, its distinctively sermon and he guests on the hook but the only thing is that Powerule sounds awkward rapping over these beats.

The Triflicts also appear on the previously released 'Genuine' which JuJu and Les hooked up beatwise and it shows. You heard this track and its definitely nice, so if you couldn't cop the 12" its worth copping the album for this alone. JuJu also makes a vocal appearance as well as behind the boards on the gab Gotcha track 'On the job' but lyrically and musically this track is pretty bland, so skip that one, its disappointing. Godfather Don hits me on here with 2 highlights, on 'Piece of the action' he comes through with a beat and flow that can only be described as Butta!!! The vocal sample trips underneath Dons lyrical attack on the mic and it's rounded off with a nice sample from 'DWYCK' on the hook. For 'Bomb Baby' he comes more laidback over a harder type track, it always amazes me how this guy is still ignored by so many. Big meal also hits us with a tight track on the misleading titled 'Niggaz, pimps, players', no this ain't some gang banging shit, its really upbeat and lively with its horns reminiscent of some early nineties type production from Pete Rock. Lastly my favorite track definitely comes in the form of the DJ Spinna produced ' In the air' by IG off and hazardous, the jazzyness of the track changes pace to keep you away from that fast forward button, definitely the albums best moment.

Overall it doesn't quite reach the heights of its predecessors, but it comes close. Its flaw is really held in the one-dimensional ness of most of its tracks, they all hold that same vibe which we heard before, nothing really switched up but if you can get over that this is for you. Someone, somewhere out there is now listening to what we really want in our compilations and its not 20 tracks of hip pop with 75% commercial appeal. In all with the popularity of the custom CD this is just an indication that maybe the record companies want to hit us with that ill shit too, it's a shame the U.S. hasn't woken up to that fact and released anything like this yet.









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