Various Artists

Who's America?

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Whether it's Fat Mike's strident and punkish Rock Against Bush comps, or the more literate approach taken by Barsuk Records and with Future Soundtrack for America, rock has opened its mouth for Election 2004. And while their stances usually take a liberal skew, most of the labels, organizations, and artists getting involved rightly care more about making the voices heard than coaching what they're gonna say. Joining the fray from the electronic and hip-hop bleeding edge are the System Recordings and Def Jux crews. A joint release with Urb, Who's America? encourages a public cool enough to be down with El-P and D:Fuse to get up and vote, and reclaim the (simple) process of one of democracy's most pure acts. All of the material here is previously unreleased or rare, and comes at a budget price too, making the comp essential for today's underground fan. Though there's plenty of flare-up over governmental policy or perceived backroom chicanery, Who's America? is more about a general encouragement of awareness and action. These are the current facts, it says; while participation in the 2004 election is paramount, it's always important to remain vigilant against those wily evil-doers, whoever they may really be. And, like the best protest music, the majority of Who's America? chooses groove and craft over message and saber-rattling. Mr. Lif's conspiratorial "Home of the Brave" (from 2002's Emergency Rations) returns in tense remix form with the aid of DJ paWL, while Perceptionists call out the Commander in Chief for his hemming and hawing. "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?," they ask bluntly. "Please Mr. President/Tell us somethin'/We knew from the beginning your ass was bluffin'." Hangar 18's "Rumors of War" is no less critical of the current administration. Other highlights include a surging, coolly cut-up RjD2 composition called "Get Off My Spaceship Bitch"; Christopher Lawrence's tranced out "Filmer," and System Recordings' Dieselboy and Kaos kicking things off with the skittering, aggressive jungle of "Subculture." [Who's America? also included two videos, El-P's "Deep Space 9mm," and Free*Land's "We Want Your Soul."]

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