Chapter Us vs. Them

This music has soul to spare. It oozes forth on this debut from a group trying to put Las Vegas on the rap map. Much closer to the organic hip-hop melodies of the Roots and early Common, 3Sixty laces his production with the hope and pain of jazz and soul music. He draws heavily from golden era hip-hop and the black experience, simultaneously stirring up misery and ecstasy. "This Thing" is a sobering testament to resilience in face of overwhelming odds while the quiet dignity of "Soundwave Slaves" shackles listeners to a tale of rappers gone wild. Over a scintillating organ, Verbal E, the other half of this dynamic duo, commands the microphone with a saccharine sweet flow reminiscent of Black Thought's lyrical dexterity. Not since A Tribe Called Quest has conscious hip-hop been so funky, so unapologetically truthful without sped-up soul samples. Us vs. Them proves artists can take the path less-travelled and wind up in the right place. (Awthentix)