Hip Hop fans are without a doubt one of the most fickle groups of fans in any genre of music. In many cases, where you're from almost matters as much as how much skills you have. For those who have preconceptions that where you rep makes just as much impact as what you rep, Saukrates is here to break down those misconceptions. Hailing from the depths of Canada, Saukrates has been one of the many emcees making an impact for Canada in the underground scene and proving Hip Hop does in fact live outside of the U.S., as hard as that may seem to people these days.
For those unfamiliar with Saukrates, he like his other underground counterparts has had his share of drama with the Hip-Hop industry. Having to deal with numerous delays and record company politics, Saukrates was never able to get his career moving in the right path. Eventually landing on Capitol Hill records, Saukrates released "The Underground Tapes", which features a collection of his finest material over the years.
What most don't realize is, Saukrates isn't your average Hip-Hop artist. Not only acting as a deadly lyricist, Saukrates (AKA Sox) is also quite the producer himself, pulling in double duty throughout the album. Unlike most great lyricist in the industry today, Sox doesn't need big named producers behind the boards in order to shine. He self produces the whole album, showcasing his talent in both spectrums of the game. Even though as a producer Sox can hold his own, it's his extraordinary lyricism that truly makes headlines.
One of the finest examples of Sox's vicious lyricism coming together with his precise production is the violent; violin enthused "Fineline". Sox literally goes berserk over the amazing produced track that will sure to get your adrenaline rushing and head nodding. "Father Time", "Money or Love" and "Can't Touch Us" are all similar type efforts where the producer/emcee side of Saukrates meet up and blend perfectly. However, don't be quick to pigeon toe Sox's as strictly a battle emcee, he can spit on a variety of levels with the best of them as seen on the storytelling anthem of "Professional".
Some of the finest moments of "The Underground Tapes" come from the various guest appearances scattered throughout the album. West Coast representative Xzibit drops by for the memorable "Keep It Movin", where we get a glimpse of the Xzibit we once knew and loved. "Play Dis 99" featuring Common is a nicely produced track that vibes well with both emcees, no matter the different styles. And while nothing special "Rollin" featuring Masta Ace & O.C. and "Ultimate Rush" featuring Heltah Skeltah are decent efforts that underground heads will eat up. However, the finest moment definitely comes from the Pharoahe Monch collaboration on "Innovations Remix". The energy and charisma of Pharoahe, combined with both emcees sick wordplay, truly make the track memorable.
While minimal, "The Underground Tapes" does pack a few disappointing moments. "Check For Me" & "Sugga Daddy" are both forced efforts from Sox that seem out of place, and "Body Language" features fellow Canadian emcee Choclair, however, the awkward track will do little but put you to sleep in the end. While most of the tracks on "The Underground Tapes" are solid, since the album is more or less thrown together to represent Sox's best material, it does get a little repetitive at times. The album doesn't seem to flow as well as it should, but in the end is still a great album.
For those unfamiliar with Saukrates, "The Underground Tapes" is a good place to start from. With a bright future ahead of him, Saukrates is a name ya'll are going to be hearing a lot of, guaranteed. And if "The Underground Tapes" is any indication, Sox might just be the next big thing.