As Lil Jon was to the crunk movement centered around Atlanta, so Keak da Sneak is to the hyphy scene in California's East Bay. That sounds like an oversimplification, but it's a comparison that works on every level. Keak da Sneak has been one of the mainstays of Oakland's hip-hop scene since the late '90s, slowly developing a signature sound of minimalist, grinding beats built mostly from thumping beatboxes and all-low-end synths. Just as Lil Jon coined (or at the very least popularized) the term "crunk" and almost single-handedly invented the musical style associated with it, Keak da Sneak is credited with creating the term "hyphy" (a multi-purpose word covering a wide variety of outlandish behaviors) and has shepherded just about every artist who has used the term. Just as importantly, Keak da Sneak's gravel-throated growl of a voice (imagine Redd Foxx as an MC) is just as novel and immediately identifiable as Lil Jon's one-syllable yelps. That said, Kunta Kinte showcases Keak as a stronger and more varied producer and rapper than his Dirty South counterpart, whose work has become distressingly one-note since his mainstream breakthrough. This album is basically a complete reworking of 2005's Town Business, remixed and resequenced to add a pair of key older tracks, "Superhyphy" and "Bumpers," to capitalize on the sudden nationwide interest in hyphy as the new hot regional rap style of 2006. Those who already own Town Business can shine this one on, but for anyone else interested by the hype, Kunta Kinte is filled with enough grungy bass-heavy beats, all but impenetrable slang, cheerfully profane lyrics, and attitude to last for days. Enjoy this album now, before some other city gets all the attention.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason
feat: Lace Leno
feat: Skee 64