Creators The Weight

The first thing that catches the eye on this album by UK producers Simon Gilbert and Julian Baker is the impressive American cast the duo has rounded up to spit verses over their beats. Mos Def & Talib Kweli, the Lootpack and members of Dilated Peoples are just a few of those featured on The Weight, which clearly relies on where the duo are at, rather than where they're from. Crisp drums and jazzy melodies dominate, and will have nostalgic East Coast sentimentalists all misty-eyed. Shout outs from Marley Marl and Diamond D underline the Creators' beat-making acumen in customising beats to the vibe of the MCs. The versatile flows of F.T., on "No Love," is among the most stunning standout examples of a beat bobbing and weaving with the flow, while El Da Sensai's gong-laced "The Music" is appropriately serene and blissful. And despite its mindlessly hedonistic title, Mike Zoot's "Hoes and Dough" impresses with EQ-boosted percussion constructed solely from handclaps, finger snaps and a vocal beatbox over a shimmering jazz guitar sliver. Even with other notable performances from Craig G, Phil Da Agony and Shawn J. Period, the Creators emerge as beatsmiths to watch when they could have easily become a sideshow on their own project. (Bad Magic)