Various Artists

Definitive Jux Teaser 2005

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Seven songs aren't going to school you when it comes to Definitive Jux. The risk-taking, edge-embracing hip-hop label's output is much too diverse to be represented by a mere seven songs, but Definitive Jux Teaser 2005 only needs a half-hour to let you know this label's taste is impeccable. Hardcore ballers and hardened street thugs can even hang with most of the label's visceral hip-hop, minus the collection's key track, which is anything but "street." With guest vocals by Cars man Ric Ocasek, the brittle mix of RJD2's "Through the Walls" is the standout cut. It really is the sum of its parts, sounding like a classic Cars song -- an Ocasek one anyway -- put through the laptop grinder of producer RJD2. Amazing, otherworldly stuff, but even when Def Jux isn't trying to push the envelope, the label makes valiant attempts at taking hip-hop away from the charlatans and back in the hands of street poets. C Rayz Walz, S.A. Smash, and an especially on-fire Cage represent the more street and sneaker-wearing side of the label brilliantly here, Cage's "Hell's Winter" being the theatrical pick of the litter. Being too short is the collection's biggest problem, but it says "teaser" right on the cover. Then again, with tracks this good, Def Jux has done underground heads a favor by only giving them seven brilliant artists they need to follow fanatically.

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