As the gap between mainstream and independent hip-hop has grown further apart, one label in particular has shown the wealth of talent that resides underground. Rawkus, who were nothing a few years ago, has grown quickly and is now one of the most respected labels in hip-hop. With this fine reputation, it's nice to see that Rawkus uses it's talent to the fullest and delivers one of the most consistent hip-hop releases of the year.
While compilations from Funkmaster Flex, DJ Clue and Kid Capri have been mostly sub-par contributions from their enviable line-ups, J-Rocc and Babu have filled 'Soundbombing II' with quality tracks by dope artists. Common and Sadat X produce a fine collaboration on the lead single '1-9-9-9,' Eminem uses his trademark style on the solid 'Any Man' and Company Flow's El-P takes his anger out on the US on 'Patriotism.' Of the 16 full length tracks, nearly all are dope and none drop below average.
Those who were introduced to Rawkus by the considerable talents of Black Star have been provide for too, with five of the full tracks featuring either Mos Def or Talib Kweli. The Gang Starr-style duo of Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek drop two tracks, 'On Mission' and the slower paced 'Chaos' featuring Bahamadia. Mos Def, while only having one solo track ('Next Universe'), also appears on his crew Medina Green's 'Crosstown Beef' and High & Mighty's previously released 'B-Boy Document '99,' which also features Mad Skillz. As expected, none of these disappoint in the slightest.
To be honest, 'Soundbombing II' isn't quite perfect. RA the Rugged Man's 'Stanley Kubrick' and Thirstin Howl III's 'Brooklyn Hard Rock,' won't disappoint current fans of these two, but could put off cats not used to their styles. However, these flaws pale in comparison when you put on 'Soundbombing' by Dialated Peoples and Tash or check '7XL' by Sir Menelik, Grand Puba and Sadat X.
Even with all these highlights though, Organised Konfusion MC Pharoahe Monche arguably puts in the LP's best performance. His storytelling solo, 'Mayor,' tells of him trying to avoid a murder rap, but his duet with Shabaam Sahdeeq, 'WWIII,' stands out as the dopest track of the compilation with an intoxicating beat and dope rhymes from both MCs. His appearances on 'Soundbombing II' definitely build anticipation for Pharoahe's forthcoming Rawkus solo.
Living up to it's tagline of "Official Mixtape of 1999," 'Sounbombing II' shows Rawkus to be the king of the Indie labels and will almost certainly have you looking forward to the next few albums they've got to release. With something for everyone and a permanently high quality level, 'Soundbombing II' is an essential purchase.