The Minority Report

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Rasco has been one of the biggest names in West Coast underground hip-hip since his breakthrough album, Time Waits for No Man, came out in 1998. So perhaps by making the first true release from his own label, Pocketslinted, a compilation by many lesser-known artists, he was trying to endorse and aid some up-and-coming stars, seeing in them what someone once saw in him just a few years previously. Either that or he was trying to prove to the world that he could be as successful a label owner/producer as he was an MC, even without having a long list of famous guest rappers. Not that everyone has abandoned him; Rasco's name still holds some sway, and of course Planet Asia has a song on the album, as well as another with his and Rasco's group, Cali Agents. New Yorker Jean Grae also contributes with the aggressive "It's a Wrap," one of the better tracks on the record, simply because it blatantly admits to being "the same song" as everything else she's put out, and the exec himself adds the autobiographical "From the Ground Up," which shies away from his typical boasting and focuses more on how he's overcome obstacles to get to his current position. There are strong cuts from some of the neophytes, too. Phil the Agony's "Everything" is witty, and his delivery is creative, switching from triplets to staccato quarter notes to biting 16ths, and Prophet's "Hustla" describes the difficult and complex work of the "superhero of the ghetto" with thought-provoking explanations and a jazzy piano sample. Even "Old English," by Trunks and Thirstin Howl III, despite the fact that it confuses dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov with a "world leader," has a good beat and a catchy hook. Maybe Rasco is not yet at the level of his own original producer, Peanut Butter Wolf -- there are some weak tracks, the uninspiring "Just Like That," for example -- but he does a good job, and The Minority Report is a solid release that offers a nice look into the future of underground hip-hop.

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