Various Artists


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Warp's Lex imprint offered up 18 more reasons why hip-hop didn't suck in 2003, with the first compilation from the label bristling with the wide-screen brilliance of their three-piece Tile series -- three extended players that originally surfaced between the latter months of 2001 and February 2003. The album acts as a rap cartographer -- detailing the far reaches of hip-hop's geography that stretches from the spectacular lyrical introspection of Mummy Fortuna and cLOUDDEAD's Why? in the east to the sleazy bump and grind of Peaches' "Casanova" in the west. Fans of Shadow and his ilk will feast upon the roster's ear for the epic, most notably in the form of rich instrumentals from Edan and Boom Bip, but it is Subtle who steals the show, somehow threading raging funk percussion through the gently swaying analog eye of his sublime "Eneby Kurs," before a child's music box neatly puts these beats to bed.

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