Da Beatminerz Brace 4 Impak

On paper, this project from revered New York boom-bap purveyors Da Beatminerz looks to be a sure-shot. With their admirably stated goal to restore the low-end frequencies to hip-hop production, a solid guest list and their track record as the producers behind formidable Boot Camp Clik groups like Black Moon and Smif N Wessun (now known as the Cocoa Brovaz), you'd think satisfaction was guaranteed. But, while there are several worthwhile moments, Brace 4 Impak sounds less like a cohesive album and more like a collection of random studio tracks lying around. The raw energy vibe from the MCs is fine, but there is a serious lack of different moods conjured up by the veteran beat merchants. To be fair, this could have been affected by Loud's apparent withholding of some of their artists from appearing on the album's final version. Still, heads salivating at the prospect of tracks with Talib Kweli and their long-time Boot Camp Clik collaborators will be underwhelmed by the mediocre results. While retaining their trademark gritty edge, Da Beatminerz' tracks are sub-par, given their reputation, and makes listening straight through the album a bit of a chore. Nevertheless, there are a number of strong performances from Pete Rock and former Soul II Soul vocalist Caron Wheeler ("Open"), Heather B. and Freddie Foxx ("How We Ride"), the Last Emperor ("Hustler's Theme) and Apani B. and What What that keeps the attention, if you take things in small doses. (Rawkus)