In general, compilation albums are never a successful venture, especially in Hip-Hop. Many have tried, but few have succeeded in producing a thorough compilation album. However, the High & Mighty are set to break through such a barrier with the release of the second installment in the "Eastern Conference All Stars" series. This time around the album features more of the same type of showcasing; vicious head nodding production by DJ Mighty Mi combined with some of the underground's finest artists.
While the scenery has changed on "Eastern Conference All Stars II", the vibe remains the same. The High & Mighty gathered a bigger and better arsenal of emcees from all over the Hip-Hop spectrum this time around. The legendary Big Daddy Kane drops some heat on "The Jump Off," and proves he hasn't lost a step in this rap game. "Emergency" by Dilated People's Evidence is proof that Ev is capable of stepping up his game to the next level. And even though Ev's lyricism leaves much to be desired on this track, he does do an excellent job at keeping the track fresh and entertaining. "Eastern Conference All Stars" is a spectacular group collaboration featuring Tame 1, Copywrite, J-zone, Cage, Mr. Eon, Skillz & Camu Tao. Each emcee comes off as well as the next, especially J-Zone, who blazes us with another humorous appearance. "You wanna free verse? Your label was a joke from the start. You want a free beat than put a stethoscope to your heart, You want free dick, then baby go back to your ex. You want free advice chump, shave the back of your neck". More standout tracks include, Pacewon's "All Get By," "Fuck Soundcheck" by Copywrite and the grotesque Cage on "Crowd Killa".
The albums finest moments come from three of the best up and coming emcees in the game today. Philly's own Pretty Ugly blazes the mic with his vivid street tales of coming up in the streets/rap game on "The Struggle". The track's production by Mighty Mi provides instant neck jerking action and P.U. only helps its cause. The West's most underrated emcee Defari once again puts forth a phenomenal performance with "Look Into My Eyes." Time after time Defari continues to impress with his appearances, especially during the past year and "Look Into My Eyes" is no different. Mighty Mi once again holds down the rock solid production, while Defari gives us his intellectual and insightful yet rugged lyricism.
If one is looking for a perfect combination between emcee and producer than look no further than Royce Da 5'9's performance on "Nickel Nine," which falls nothing short of amazing. Behind the boards is the under appreciated Reef, who simply puts forth his best production ever seen. The track is definitely one of the best in Royce's short but successful career.
"Eastern Conference All Stars II" unfortunately features some big highs and lows on both sides. While more than half of the album is filled with nothing but heat, there are many joints that leave much to be desired. "The Bread Winner" featuring Charlie 2na of the multitalented Jurassic 5 is an awkwardly put together track. The production end never really meets up with Charlie's smooth flow and delivery making it one of the more forgettable experiences on the album. And while the High & Mighty put together this venture, they are unfortunately responsible for some of its downfalls. "Fake Thug Theme" featuring The High & Mighty & Lord Sear, "Homecoming Queen" by R.A. The Rugged Man & Mr. Eon, and "Tonight's The Night" by The High & Mighty themselves are all subpar efforts on both The High & Mighty and their counterparts side. Mr. Eon's unorthodox style and flare are sometimes a cause for criticism, especially when the production end doesn't match up.
While underground heads will eat this album up, many unfamiliar with the underground sound will unfortunately overlook it. "Eastern Conference All Stars II" is a solid compilation album that offers something for everybody's taste. While inconsistent at times, the album is still a showcase for what underground Hip-Hop is about, and you will be hard pressed to find a compilation album better.