Various Artists

Def Jux Presents...

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Barely seven songs and 30 minutes long, Def Jux Presents... serves as a superb introduction to the new reigning label of early-2000s underground hip-hop, and contains some rare cuts as an added bonus. The Cannibal Ox songs, while exemplary, are taken from The Cold Vein, and RJD2's spacy instrumental "Silver Fox" (which sounds like space-age lounge music for futuristic swingers) is from Dead Ringer, but the remaining cuts are all exclusive to this set and are all recommended. The guitar-laden "Simple" and "DPA," a bizarre mixture of rock guitars, Tangerine Dream-style electronics, and hardcore lyrics, proves that no one can construct intricate soundscapes, or create elaborate rhymes over them, like Company Flow's El-P. The Aesop Rock cut would fit in perfectly on Labor Days, with its mixture of jazzy beats and off-kilter verses. As a budget-price sampler, this fits the bill, although there are plenty of talented Def Jux acts who were not included (although some, like Mr. Lif, were not signed to the label when the sampler was released), and a few more unreleased cuts would be great. Still, as a way to introduce newcomers to the formidable talent at the label, as well as a collection of great underground hip-hop, Def Jux Presents... will please newcomers and diehards alike.

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