Various: The Difference (2002)

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The difference that this compilation attempts to point out is that between the material excess of mainstream/major label hip-hop, and the skills-oriented underground/indie scene. The Difference is a solid celebration of hip-hop that revels in clever, though not always conscious lyricism. Featuring a who’s who of the independent scene (KRS-One, Punch-N-Words Craig Mack, Cocoa Brovaz), it could be subtitled 1001 Insults To Wack Rappers. Wannabe MCs could study track after track of these tightly engineered rhymes with an acerbic sense of humor and abundance of witty put downs. In fact KRS-One’s track has been turning some heads for its supposed diss to chart-topping Nelly. His track "Clear ‘Em out" contains the lyrics “You tired of me saying what’s hip-hop, well I’m tired of you bitin’ my shit to go pop…your album appeals to little second graders.” The track itself is not KRS’ best however and also features Tone Deff, who, despite his protestations of style biters, has a flow pattern that is remarkably similar to Eminem’s. But there’s plenty to enjoy, including Dilated People’s "Certified Official" that sees them dropping their trademark science over a chunky track laced with horns and Babu’s scratching. High & Mighty do their usual quick-witted, grimy gutter humor thing over crisp snares and string picks, with gruff vocals. Overall, the sheer lyrical entertainment overcomes the sometimes too familiar production styles.

Record Label: Official Jointz

Style: Beyond Jazz

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