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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Various Artists
EV Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

January 30, 2007
Independent hip-hop label EV Records has begun to find its sweet spot. Although some would say that the Chicago company has been turning out decent records for a few years, it is only now with their first roster compilation that one can see a comprehensive theory take form. The resultant accumulation is 14 tracks, four producers, and a handful of MCs who literally make up Everything.

As an aside, the other indication that EV is beginning to forge a respectable reputation is the rising quality of guest spots they are landing. On Everything non-label mid-sized MCs Royce Da 5'9, Diverse, and Psalm One all make significant contributions. Additionally exciting are the upcoming cameos that are advertised inside the compilation's artwork - solo albums from house producers Copperpot and K-Kruz will feature KRS One, Masta Ace, Prince Po, members of Tortoise, Steve Spacek, and Count Bass D.

But you don't just land names like that because you have good connections, you gotta have some worth. Everything is a good representation for what makes the label and artists a unique, credible collective. Just like in the way that Def Jux or Stones Throw established their identifications through key pillars (Def Jux through the likes of El-P and Aesop Rock, Stones Throw through Madlib and J Dilla), EV features four central producers - Earmint, Overflo, Copperpot, and K-Kruz - who craft one whole independent hip-hop identity.

The four producers each bring their own distinct style. Overflo brings the most unconventional, creatively divergent production. Drum beats often have off-the-beat hi-hat or tom punctuations, like in "Vintage" where hi-hat sizzles break up a straight hip-hop beat. He also brings edgy hooks, sometimes utilizes sped-up soul guitar, and in other applications uses quick and catchy electronic melodies.

Copperpot leans towards the side of jazzy and classic, using framing bass lines to complement sophisticated break drums (think Nicolay with a little more snap) and jazz guitars to color in the open spaces. MC Ang13 helps Copperpot throw 'bows in "Ain't Goin Down" and in doing as much also shows promise to be the next big up-and-coming female hip-hop artist.

K-Kruz uses sounds not greatly divergent from the other three, but his sense of track arrangement is perhaps the best of all. His beats are the most defining aspect of his production, with slightly tripping beatplay serving as his calling card. "Speakeasy" with Thaione Davis shows off the layering of three different synth/organ parts, a walking slow jazz upright bass line, and the sound of woodblocks/clave rhythms that are always a hair behind the downbeat. Instead of coming off as lazy, the effect creates a feeling of laidback-ness that few people have managed to do so well. An on-and-off tambourine rhythm in "Citybus" does the same cathartic damage.

The final producer, Earmint, has hot efficiency going for him. Although he is the newest of the EV bunch, his tracks always seem consistent and pretty killer. His cut "The Mic" (with Royce Da 5'9/Longshot/Profound) leads off the comp and sets a solid tone with a simple freestyle beat, trickling keys, and samples and scratches provided by DJ Onceamonth. Later Earmint adds once of the comp's best tracks in "Things I Do" with his right-hand MC Psalm One.

If you are looking to find out about the underground hip-hop scene of Chicago, and the developing trends of the entire genre, Everything has enough taste to go around.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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