Slowly developing a stellar lineup of underground artists, Landspeed Records has become one of the finest independent labels in the Hip Hop industry. Cashing in on their popularity, "Essential Underground Hip Hop 1" is a solid compilation album made up of mostly underground East Coast artists, but is able to stay varied at the same time.
Your typical Landspeed Record artists are of course included on most of the album with tracks such as Infamous Mobb's "Mobb Niggaz The Sequel", Non Phixion's DJ Premier produced "Rock Stars", and Cormega's "Get Out My Way" from "The Realness" and "Built For This" from this years magnificent "The True Meaning". However, we do get a nice variety of tracks from artists not directly tied into Landspeed Records, such as Royce Da 5'9's "Nickle Nine", 50 Cent's "U Not Like Me", and R.A. The Rugged Man's "You Don't Wanna Fuck Wit".
However, the finest moments come from the new tracks included on the album, which really make this compilation album a success. The O.C. of old shows up for one of his finest tracks in recent memory, "King Of New York". After the disappointing "Bon Appetit", it is great to see O.C. back in the form he was years ago. The J-Love produced track is nothing but heat, as he continues to be one of the finest up and coming producers in the game. J-Love also comes through with another phenomenal performance on the Inspectah Deck track "Swordplay Remix". It's been years since we have had such heat from Deck, and wets our mouth for another album. The production truly elevates Deck to another level. Let's just hope we can get an album soon. The legendary Big Daddy Kane makes another stellar appearance on the DJ Premier produced "Any Type Of Way". It's great to see the two legends back together and recreate the same classic feel. More standout tracks include "Hip Hop Worth Dying For" by Main Flow featuring Talib Kweli, and "We Gon Buck" featuring CNN, Lake & Cormega.
While "Essential Underground Hip Hop 1" is one of the finer compilation albums to come out in recent memory, it isn't filled without its filler tracks. 7L & Esoteric's "Word Association" is a boring/stale track that doesn't bring anything new to the table as is Thirstin Howl's "Thirsty Man", Group Home' "Handle Your BI" and "Back Up" by Phil Da Agony & King Tee. The Beatnuts new joint off of their new album "Work That Pole" is definitely disappointing and somewhat boring compared to their previous singles. Also, Guru & Mast Ace's "Conflict Remix" fails to capture the same aura as the original, and unfortunately falters due to subpar production.
Overall, "Essential Underground Hip Hop 1" is a solid compilation album that will be hit or miss by many. While most of the joints on the album have been out for awhile, there are numerous exclusives that are well worth the albums low price. While filler tracks consume some part of the album, most fans will appreciate the better part of the album, making this album a must to pick up. Landspeed Records has a bright future ahead of them, and "Essential Underground Hip Hop 1" is proof that they are going in the right direction.