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Underground Crown Holders - Various artists


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 producer.

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 (GC) albums.

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 CD fresh.

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 it loud.

 

Track listing:
Only Child – Memories feat Kriminul
Funky Fresh Few – Through These Veins feat Afu-Ra
Rae & Christian – Play On feat The Jungle Brothers
Aim – The Omen feat Diamond D
Aim – True to HipHop feat AG
Funky Fresh Few – Dimes Got feat Dimes
Dual Control – Stoned Mason feat Peter Parker
Tony D – Queen Of My Dreams feat Low Key
Rae & Christian – Anything U Want – feat QNC
Aim – I Ain’t Got Time To Waste feat YZ
Rae & Christian – It Ain’t Nothing Like feat The Pharcyde [The Nextmen Remix]
Fingathing – Crowdpleasers feat DJ Noize
Funky Fresh Few – Drop A Jewel feat Afu-Ra
Aim – Nightlife feat Substantial
Aim – No Restriction feat Souls Of Mischief
Aim – Underground Crown Holders
Funky Fresh Few - Deadbeat

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