Various Artists

Extra Yard

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Far and away Britain's finest hip-hop label (and one of the finest in the world), Big Dada spent its first five years assembling a crucial stable of producers and rappers who forged a fresh style owing surprisingly little to rap music of the American variety. The Big Dada sound is a meld of digital ragga with hip-hop breakbeats and a distinctly British West Indies style of rapping -- heavy on the flow and the verbiage. Extra Yard, the label's second compilation, is all unreleased and excellent from start to finish, the perfect way to sample the Big Dada style without risk of release overlap. Flagship rapper Roots Manuva gets no less than four tracks, two of them solid remixes ("Bashment Boogie," "Dreamy Days"), one a version of his massive track "Witness" rejuvenated with a posse of rappers, and the last a new track ("Born Again," with new name Wildflower). Veteran Ty wins the best-track sweepstakes with "We Don't Care," driven by a deep, distorted bassline and his awesome vocal turn fading into a great group vocal on the chorus. Ace producer Part 2 makes a specialty out of excellent tracks, and all of the ones he directs here get the nod as well: "Life Without You" (a sleek R&B tune featuring LSK on vocals, with a bit of a 2-step bounce to it) and two New Flesh songs, "Lie Low" and "Eat More Fruit," both studded with deep, stuttered beats. The raps are top-notch, the productions next-level, and the whole package is mixed into a fine froth by DJ Excalibah, on loan from the Beeb.

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