In the world of underground Hip-Hop few record labels can compete with the raw up and coming talent Seven Heads Entertainment provides. The past couple of years have seen Seven Heads rise from a small, unknown record company to now a prominent player in the industry. The company is widely known for such artists as Asheru, El Da Sensei, producer Djinji Brown and formally J-Live. A chance to showcase this talent comes in the form of a new compilation album entitled "7 Heads Are Better Than 1: No Edge Ups In South Africa Vol. 1".
While compilation albums are always a tricky endeavor to pull off, Seven Heads does a magnificent job of constructing one of the years best compilation albums. The 14 track album features some of Seven Head's brightest and newest stars, along with some close friends as well. The album's title originated from an inside joke within the company, but grew to something much bigger, a metaphor for the current state of Hip Hop, as the company's founder Wes Jackson states inside the album's booklet.
With "No Edge Ups In South Africa" we are privileged to witness a compilation that is a throw back of sorts. It is a throw back to the days when raw, hungry emcees just rhymed their heart out on a track. No gimmicks or glamour, just real Hip-Hop in its purest form. The album's main attraction will of course be none other than J-Live, who gives us two amazing solo tracks, along with two other guest appearances. The past two years J-Live has solidified himself as one of Hip-Hop's elite emcee's and most well kept secrets, and J-Live's performance on this album is just more proof of that statement. J's shining moment on the album comes from the Domecracker Remix of "Braggin Writes". If there was ever a track that just screamed vintage J-Live across it, this remix to "Braggin Writes" is it. With a smooth serenade of kicks, snares and horns by DJ Spinna & DJ Joc Max, J-Live spits lyrical perfection while flowing with nothing but grace.
While not as memorable as the "Braggin Writes" remix, "Say Cheese" is another outstanding J-Live track featured on the compilation. The self produced track features some nice scratching in the song's hook by J himself along with more memorable lyricism from the elite emcee. "It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how some be trying skip the line on the food chain. It's like a desert cause folks is so thirst, when bad turns to worse motherfuckers start seeing things. It's like a forest sometimes and when you can't see the trees you bound to get bitten by your own bark". The final two J-Live appearances on the album come from two group collaborations, both of which also end up memorable. "Bosoms" featuring J-Live & Wordsworth is a noteworthy track that is one of the more unique offerings on the album. The song takes a page out of The Roots formula, using live instrumentation from Soulive's Eric Krasno (Guitar) & Neal Evans (Organ & Bass), along with Adam Deitch (Drums) of Lettuce. The track is a nice combination of Hip-Hop and funky Jazz groves, making it one of the more memorable songs on "No Edge Ups In South Africa". On your more typical Hip-Hop vibe, "Trackrunners" is a group collaboration between the underrated Grap Luva, J-Live & Asheru. Grap's Pete Rock influenced production is in full effect on "Trackrunners", giving each emcee a perfect vibe to work off of.
While J-Live will of course attract many to this compilation, there are no weak links throughout the album's entirety. Every track is as good as the next, no matter the emcee. Asheru especially comes correct throughout the album, making him one of the true stars featured on "No Edge Ups". The Dr. Who produced "BMG" is a marvelous effort from Asheru filled with that pure essence of Hip-Hop that is not easily duplicated. However, the real Asheru gem comes from the Talib Kweli collaboration of "Mood Swing". Simply put, "Mood Swing" is an amazing song that will without a doubt have you listening for days. The wondrous Joe Money beat is simply beautiful in every sense of the word and is actually the closest Talib Kweli has come to in awhile to sounding like he did on the classic "Reflection Eternal" album, that's how good the production is. And if these two Asheru tracks are any indication of what's to come, we should all be excited to hear Asheru's up and coming album.
However, not to be forgotten are some of the other great emcee's featured on the album. While many will not be familiar with their names, their music speaks for itself, as each emcee proves their worth in this Hip-Hop game. "Queen City Remix" by BJ Digby, Piakhan & Takil is yet another marvelous track that reminds me of Blackstar's classic "Respiration". Behind the boards Supreme achieves perfection with the tracks smooth and melodic feel. Each emcee's verse dedication to the "Queen City" is also memorable and not to be forgotten. "Queen City Remix" is how Hip-Hop is supposed to sound like, what more can you say? Speaking of real Hip Hop the aptly titled "This Is Hip Hop" by Oddissee & Kenn Starr is an infectious Oddisee produced track complete with hard as nails kicks and snares that will certainly have your head nodding. Both emcee deliver great lyrical verses while the tracks hook sums it all up perfectly. "Some people say it's the real, but to us its just something you feel. Whether or not ya'll consider it hot, cause it's topin' the charts, this music, it's Hip Hop".
In this day and age of Hip-Hop it is nearly impossible to find an outstanding compilation album. Most are filled with your average throwaway tracks and filler material. However, Seven Head's "No Edge Ups In South Africa" is one of the finest compilation albums witnessed in awhile. The album is filled with spectacular music that represents true Hip-Hop in every way possible. It has been a long time since a compilation album has sounded this good, and who else but Seven Heads to deliver it. No matter what your style is, "No Edge Ups In South Africa" has something for everyone in love with real Hip-Hop. It would be a crime to overlook this album as just another flawed compilation, so do your self a favor and pick it up.