Chapter Us vs. Them

Does anyone remember the last time they heard an emcee rep the city of Las Vegas? You can bet it hasn’t been all too frequent an occurrence, however odd that may seem given the city’s apparent characteristic alignment with much of what hip-hop has to say these days. The Chapter, then, are a lone but astute voice in the middle of that corrupted desert oasis — one intent on dropping cold science rather than serving as a billboard for Sin City’s innumerable vices. This DJ/emcee tag team, which first saw light on Okayplayer’s True Notes Vol. 1 comp and enjoys the enthusiastic support of Roots’ headpiece ?uestlove, represents the antithesis of their environs, serving up a healthy platter of intelligent insights and hungry rhymes over beats guaranteed to get your back up off the wall. Producer 3Sixty’s musical backdrops flow seamlessly between soulful contemplative grooves and straight block-rockers, as emcee Verbal E bounces from the introspective vibe of "One Moment” to the underground anthem "Soundwave Slavery” and back over to club shaker "On Ten.” Aside from the redundant reworking of Chris Rock’s infamous "Niggers vs. Black People” routine for "…I Do Despise,” Us vs. Them provides all you could hope for in a debut record, and the rounding out of the disc with two remixes by Foreign Exchange beatsmith Nicolay certainly doesn’t hurt the cause. (Awthentix)