Album: Soundbombing II
Rating: 9.5 / 10
If the original “Soundbombing” was a blueprint of how to make an underground hip-hop mixtape/compilation, this follow-up is similarly a lesson in how to make a proper sequel, expanding and improving the original in every way rather than just rehashing the successful formula. In the same way that “Scream 2” took everything that made the first film great and took it to the next level, so too does “Soundbombing 2,” creating much more than just a sum of its parts.
And what parts they are too. Eminem, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, The High and Mighty, Company Flow, Reflection Eternal… who could fail to be impressed? The important factor however is that all these big names more than fulfil their potential and in some of their cases, provide their best work to date. The evolution of the likes of Blackstar from raw, unshaped talent to more seasoned, defined artists is especially impressive, with Mos Def’s numerous appearances all building anticipation for his then-forthcoming LP to feverpitch levels, and DJ Hi-Tek, who handles around half the production, coming out from MCs’ shadows, establishing his own niche in hip-hop, not an easy thing to do.
With 27 tracks, one might expect some lulls in dopeness, but they are certainly few and far between. It’s a testament to Rawkus then-stern quality control that over 72 minutes, there are perhaps only two filler tracks, which fail simply because, in such illustrious surroundings, anything less than top draw beats and lyrics will undoubtedly get lost. Contributions by Medina Green and Sir Menelik are by no means bad, just average and on an album full of potential standouts, they pale to insignificance.
Picking these standouts however, is an even harder job with such a range of styles covered, everyone will undoubtedly have their own individual favourites. Personally though, I would say that the crowning jewels were Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Mayor,’ Reflection Eternal’s ‘On a Mission’ and Eminem’s Slim-Shady-era ‘Any Man,’ featuring some of his craziest and dopest lyrics to date:
“Scratched my balls til I shredded skin
“Doctor, check this rash, look how red it’s been”
“It’s probably AIDS!” – Forget it then
I strike a still pose and hit you with some ill flows
that don’t even make sense, like dykes usin dildos
So reach in your billfolds, for ten ducats
and pick up this Slim Shady shit that’s on Rawkus
Somethin, somethin, somethin, somethin, I get weeded
My daughter scribbled over that rhyme, I couldn’t read it”
Other tracks worthy of special mention are Co Flow’s penultimate release, the fresh ‘Patriotism,’ the heavy Pharoahe Monch and Shabaam Sahdeeq collabo ‘WW3,’ and the slow funk of Dilated Peoples’ title track. Finally, it is worth making particular reference to the DJs behind this mix, the Bumrush Brothers, J-Rocc and Dilated’s Babu, succeeding where Evil Dee failed on the first volume, keeping their mouths shut and their needles sharp, providing nice blends and dope scratch intros to several tracks. They truly are the icing on an already tasty cake. The result, as you’ve probably noticed from the score, is near perfection. I’d even go so far as to say that it still stands as the best underground hip-hop compilation ever made, and quite possibly the best record Rawkus will ever release.