Various Artists

Six Shades of the Same Color

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As the underground rap scene enjoyed a major injection of talent after the turn of the century, Birthwrite Records appeared to offer some of the finest talents coming out of Chicago. Offering clever MCs like Infinito and Lord360, Six Shades of the Same Color is the first sampler from the label. A clever mix of original beats and interesting rappers, this emerging scene has more of a sonic unity than many other indie hip-hop labels. There isn't a huge difference between the styles offered, but what is here is a laid-back combination of unique samples, post-Native Tongues "smart" rhymes, stuttering organic percussion, and a dark attitude that comes closer to trip-hop than hip-hop. The best track is Infinito's captivating "Compared to No One Vol. 18," where the quick-witted lyricist delivers a smarmy chorus ("And a hook would be so cliché/But I like to contradict what I say") with an infectious gusto. Elsewhere, Rhetorik offers a hypnotic breakdown of a life spent unsatisfied married to a softcore B-movie soundtrack sample, and the brash Psalm One adds a soulful tribute to her dad's unheard musical efforts that also serves as a comparison to her own achievements in hip-hop. Six Shades of the Same Color is a wonderful slice of indie rap that may not be sonically adventurous, but instead wins over listeners with an intelligence that stands in contrast to most of their mainstream brethren. This is a concise and recommended way to discover yet another thriving scene in the world of underground hip-hop.

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