Ever since hip-hop became a huge international phenomenon in the '80s, it has had a variety of regional flavors. That is not only true in the United States, but also in many parts of Europe and Latin America. Some MCs can be extremely provincial; there are Spanish rappers in Madrid who love to rag on rappers from Barcelona, and British hip-hoppers in London who poke fun at the way MCs flow in Manchester and Liverpool. But for all the regional prejudices that exist in hip-hop, there are also many MCs who refuse to get caught up in the regional battles -- and Dirt-Gravel-Grime indicates that Official Big League (OBL) feels that way. This trio is from the northeastern United States and has a strong northeastern flavor -- northeastern in terms of the way they flow, northeastern in terms of rapper/producer Edward Stoutemire's beats. But at the same time, Dirt-Gravel-Grime demonstrates that OBL's members are not oblivious to rap styles in other parts of the USA. While their approach to hardcore rap is 90 percent northeastern, there are hints of the Dirty South in some of their material. This R-rated CD isn't as sexually explicit or as violent as some of the grooves that are coming out of the Dirty South; nonetheless, several of the songs are separated into "radio versions" that are FCC-friendly and "dirty versions" that are not so FCC-friendly. By 2004 standards, Dirt-Gravel-Grime isn't groundbreaking. OBL's themes -- the inferiority of suckers MCs and playa-haters, the dangers of life in the hood -- have been explored on countless other rap discs. Nonetheless, many of their grooves are catchy -- and while Dirt-Gravel-Grime is mildly inconsistent, it is a generally decent outing from the East Coast threesome.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson