Fat Beats

Fat Beats, Vol. 2

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For most hardcore hip-hop heads, Fat Beats is better known as a beat lover's mecca -- with record stores in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam -- than a record label. But this compilation proves the company's masterminds have the right connections (not to mention the impeccable taste) to become a beacon of light on the underground hip-hop scene. Backpacker movement favorites like Atmosphere, Quasimoto, and Arsonists are all here, but Vol. 2 mixes these more established names with a diverse batch of lesser-knowns and relative unknowns to create a rock-solid overview of the progressive hip-hop sound circa 2002. After turntablist DJ Eclipse gets the party started with some mixing magic on the opening track, Lootpack MC Wildchild proves he's ready for the big time with the Madlib-produced "Clap Your Hands," an infectious jam that rocks along on a dizzyingly syncopated rhyme flow. Saukrates is another emerging talent, showcasing a more straightforward street style on the self-produced "Play Dis," which features a guest rhyme by Common. The album takes it back to the ol' school with slammin' cuts from Edo.G. and Just-Ice, and recognizes the new school with appearances by Dilated Peoples on Phil da Agony's "Analyze the Operation" and Encore's "Filthy." It's not quite a perfect compilation, but with a minimum of filler and solid tracks representing nearly every segment of the underground hip-hop scene, Fat Beats does it a helluva lot better than most.

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