Canibus / Keith Murray / The Undergods

In Gods We Trust: Crush Microphones to Dust

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Canibus and Keith Murray’s the Undergods project arrived well after hip-hop fans had become skeptical of the whole “collaborating veterans” thing, but hating on this marketing ploy that has been popular for the past couple years doesn’t acknowledge how artistically fruitful the device has been. Like DJ Quik and Kurupt’s BlaQKout, or Method Man and Redman’s Blackout! 2, In Gods We Trust is a fan-satisfying -- sometimes fan-surprising -- album rather than a slicked-up ploy to get back on the radar. Not pandering to the current craze is one of the album’s main strong points, and even when the duo take shots at the class of 2011, they're dismissing and reminiscing about better days instead of openly inviting a brawl. That said, the putdowns are ferocious, delivered stone cold as they should be and directed at the duo’s contemporaries, folks like Joe Budden and the Slaughterhouse crew. Shame the Wu-related producer Bronze Nazareth only gets an interlude to share his superior skills, but the album is packed with trunk-rumbling stunners from Jake One, Shuko, and Amadeus, along with a handful from the album’s executive producer, Erick Sermon. Too narrow to be considered a classic, but certainly classic in feel, those who prefer their hip-hop to scowl and seek to “rip a backpack off a bitch” should get plenty of fuel from this throwback soundtrack.

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