For the first four years of their existence, Bay Area underground hip-hoppers the Sound Providers were a trio: rapper Profile and producers Soulo and Jason Skills. Profile left for a solo career in 2002, leaving the remaining two to transform the brand name into an eclectic, primarily instrumental duo with occasional guest rappers. The compilation Looking Backwards: 2001-1998 is a solid overview of the group's first incarnation, with Profile's low-key, positive-themed raps over Soulo and Skills' clever, jazz-based samples-and-scratching settings on terrific underground hits like "Dope Transmission" and "Yes Y'All." Timeless-sounding thanks to the production team's unapologetically retro taste in cool jazz and easy listening exotica samples and Profile's mellow, conversational mic style, the 16 tracks on this anthology sound like they could have been recorded at any point since the birth of acid jazz, and still sound fresh today.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason