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Various Artists, The Guestlist

Album Review

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Published February 25, 2009 at 6:21 a.m.


music-guestlist.jpg

(Self-released, CD)

Whuddup, Vermooonnnt? Do you love hip-hop? Do you even know hip-hop? If not, there is no shame in confessing your nescience to the hustle and flow. We are, after all, about 350 miles from ghetto heaven. But do understand, the stories of the urban streets make for passionately urgent and animated prose. Combine meticulously timed beats, breaks, samples and rhymes and you’ve got a music that is socially relevant, technically immaculate and oh so heavy. Hip-hop is a zeitgeist that comes in many sizes, shapes and colors, some you will love and some that will make you want to hide under your bed. And in some cases, maybe both.

For the uninitiated, The Guestlist, a 21-track mixtape spearheaded by New Hampshire-based hip-hop collective The Problemaddicts, is a great place to begin your hip-hop journey. The Problemaddicts lay it down right, mid-’90s style, with sweet, soulful samples, tight beats and effortless rhymes. Their tracks are clearly the standouts.

DJ Theory mixes the disc into a tasty potluck of up-and-coming regional underground artists. It’s clear we’re sitting on a solid, Soulquarians-style compilation — and believe me, they ain’t all like that. I suppose we could have surmised as much, given that the late, great master of off-beat rhythms and bright minor chords, J-Dilla, produced the fourth track, Copywrite’s “Waiting to Exhale.” It is certainly not the strongest song on the record. But at this point, any Dilla is better than no Dilla.

The Guestlist also features production and cuts by New Hampshire native Statik Selektah. Now living in NYC, Statik has become known for slick, retro beats, vintage samples and an uncanny ability to remix the classics. Case in point: Apeshit & Undu Kati’s “Primetime.”

Fans of Atmosphere should check out tracks from Black River Sound and L.I.F.E. Long. Both “Grow” and “One Shot” combine urgently delivered, conscious rhymes with soft, delicate hooks — just the way I like it.

Last but not least, Burlington’s very own Burnt MD appears with “The Game,” featuring West Coast MC Planet Asia. Burnt slings like a hungry baller with a back-throat gangster flow that trembles at his cries of insistence. The high, hollow vocals on the backing track make it sound downright creepy. And I mean that in a good way. Creepy in a “people goin’ down” kind of way. I’m under my bed. But I am definitely grooving.

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