Review: Rob Lord
IF THERE'S any need for proof that the breaks and beats coming
out of the UK equal those of the US, then this CD is it.
Underground Crown Holders is a compilation of Grand
Central artists’ collaborations with the cream of US rappers.
You’ll not find P Diddy here though, just the likes of The
Jungle Brothers, Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief.
Despite covering the last 10 years of Grand Central output, there
is a consistency of style here. It’s laidback raps, gentle
breaks and subtle scratches that define this CD. These are lovingly
crafted songs built with care and attention. All the guest rappers
deliver fine performances, much I guess out of respect for the
Take opening track Memories, by Only Child. Hooked from
the first beat, the hard piano rolls you along as Kriminul effortlessly
raps. The chorus sample, ‘stop haunting me now’, fades
in and out and the whole track sets the CD up perfectly.
There’s just too much here to review individually. There
are six Aim tracks, four of which feature on his two Grand Central
Otherwise, NightLife is upbeat with an usual new school
soul chorus that featured on last year's Grand Central Translation
mix. The other Underground Crown Holders is the Rocky
esq fight music that featured on Ordered from the Catalogue.
One break from the mould is Dual Control’s Stoned Mason.
The guest appearance is Peter Parker, from Fingathing fame.
Instead of rapping, Parker cuts and scratches over the heavy
beat to produce a head nodding crescendo. I just love the idea
of a guest appearance by a turntablist – what a concept.
Then there is the Nextmen’s timeless mix of Rae & Christians
It Ain’t Nothing Like, a dancefloor filler with
expert scratches, rolling beat and smooth tight Pharcyde raps.
If it doesn’t make your feet move, you must be dead from
the waist down.
The Funky Fresh Few make four appearances, best of which is the
classic Through These Veins.
With Afu-Ra delivering his self gratifying opening line, ‘my
name is Afu-Ra, yes I be the lyrical wonder’ and the looping
sample ‘hip-hop running through these veins’, it's
just a stunning track.
Although there are familiar tracks on Underground Crown Holders,
you’d need to own the whole back catalogue to know them
all. There’s more than enough uncovered gems to keep the
If that’s not enough, there’s a mix CD by Funky Fresh
Few included, featuring more GC tracks not on Underground
Crown Holders. This 60-minute mix flows through the excellent
GC back catalogue.
It’s testament to GC that after 10 years they can release
compilations based on a single style and there not be one filler,
not one dud track.
This CD is epic by proportion. Buy it, buy it today and play