75 Degrees The Last Great Hip-hop Album

By now you know that the San Fran Bay has got some crazy talent bubbling all across that big old bridge of theirs, but what you may not know is this: Bay Area rap kids are the ones who came up with all that hizzle-thizzle eezy-breezy talk. The record is being set straight, thanks in part to the tireless efforts of the Heezy Preservation Society — led by the very special 75 Degrees and their fresher-than-mountaintops full-length, The Last Great Hip-hop Album. Released independently after a too-long delay, the record’s title is misleading but by no means presumptuous. This 13-track love note from the 75 is in defiance of many of the expectations that come with the "hip-hop" title. The sound is stripped down and almost elementary — not gritty or minimalist, just simplified — but it works in a way that's far more engaging and interesting than most over-laboured studio projects. Clever and conversational lyricism and sharp songwriting are complimented by Casio keys and bass loops, with raps so unassuming and laid-back that they hardly seem like raps half the time. Almost every track is standout, but "The Ballad of Mike Jizzles," the sharp humour of "Don't Let Me Down” and the body-shaking cheerleader hook in "Rock the Show" lead the pack. 75’s humour shines during a moving rendition of Kiss heart-jerker "Beth," and their own remix "Fly Away" with a hot, crunk-ified Björk sample is off-your-rocker brilliant. Bonus points for dropping a barbershop chorus. Go get this now; it may not be what you expect, but it’s nice to be surprised sometimes. (Dining Room)