Tony Touch - The Piece Maker      
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written by Philip Oliver    
Yet another deejay hits the stores with a record label backing for that ‘official mixtape’. Its been done over the years by Flex, Clue, Kid Capri, Sway & Tech but none have done it with the quality that Tony Touch has been able to maintain on ‘The Piece Maker.’ You know the story, Tony Touch has been doing the rounds with his mixtapes for years, most notably his 50 emcees series and along with Doo Wop been representing the Latino side of things, even dropping verses here and there until Tommy Boy picked him up a year or 2 ago. Well nothing changes in quality on this release, there’s no annoying shouting over the music and cutting up at crucial moments in a track in fact there’s very little mixing at all but forget about that and slip this in your CD player and get 21 tracks of quality hip hop.

All tracks have been made especially for Tony Touch, that means a lot of them are produced by the groups themselves name checking Tony Toca and even letting him drop a verse. He even comes through with Doo Wop for his own track on the first single ‘Return of the Diaz brothers’ which may not have caught your attention straight away but listen to those horns escalating and Tony Touch’s verses may not be Rakim or Krs but he can old his own in a very weak hip hop world. The Wu represent with ‘The abduction’ and core members RZA, Masta Killah, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface and GZA (Who comes through with a blazing verse) bring one of the albums greatest moments as its dramatic sound reminds me of the Wu we all know and love. Other collectives in the mix include the Flipmode squad with the energetic ‘Set it on fire’ where new member Marciano blazes the first verse but its Rah Digga who kills it. The Likwit emcees come through ‘Likwit Rhyming’ and would you expect any less of Tash Defari and Xzibit? And what compilation would be complete without DITC on the brilliant flute driven ‘The Club’ where they are joined by Partie Artie (from Ghetto Dwellaz) and Kid Capri who surprises me by fitting right in there with a decent verse.

If you got your ear tuned into the world of hip hop then it would be hard to ignore the current B-side in the form of Gangstarrs title track. Guru and premier are on top form as verses and beats are executed to perfection, check how Tony Touch’s name is cut up on the hook. ‘No No No’ is brought to us by Heltah Skeltah along with Starang who bring that Boot Camp flavor over a Latin influenced shuffle, the ‘yah’ sound used in the loop is pretty fucking cool. Tony Toca even drops a few lines on this as well as on the Cypress Hill Cut ‘U Know the rules’, which is again an example of the dark manic sound they seem to have strayed away from on their latest LP. The Dirty Dozen along with Eminem come through with a track I’ve had in rotation since last year, ‘Get back’ is a great example of Slim Shady getting sick as fuck more than ever. But don’t ignore the other members of D12 as Proof exemplifies why they are called The Dirty Dozen, the beat on this one is just as sick as Eminem.

There are a few collabos here and there and none come better than Greg Nice and Psycho Les on ‘Pit fight’ although I wish Greg Nice had come back from his rhyming hiatus with a stronger verse, its not 1990 anymore and his off key flow can get annoying. The best emcees to reunite are De La Soul ad Mos Def on ‘What's That’ as Mos Def raps almost half his verse in Spanish showing a side of his versatility you may have not caught before. Big daddy Kane and G Rap reunite yet again with the help of Krs One on ‘Class of ‘87’ but it came off a little disappointing, not because of the emcees but the moody beat they got is a bit overdone, still its far from shit.

If you love hip hop then all your favorite emcees are here, unlike last years ‘The Tunnel’ or ‘The Professional’ this brings together tracks from great hip hop artists not just ‘Hot’ ones, I can’t pinpoint anyone on here who has been put on here when they don’t deserve it. Even the track with Total ‘I don’t know why’ is a nice break around mid way from the hip-hop as they sing an ode to the deejays over the ‘he's the greatest dancer’ loop. This album succeeds in being more than a mix-tape but rather a great compilation of new tracks, its been a long time coming but Tony Touch has put out a great LP, it may not go platinum or even gold but it was worth the wait.

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