D.I.T.C. D.I.T.C.

The Diggin' In The Crates crew were at the forefront of New York's hip-hop scene in the early '90s and the collective's members carried heavy clout in their own individual right. Lord Finesse was the "Funky Technician," Show & A.G were "Runaway Slaves," Diamond's vices were "Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop" and O.C. was notifying MCs their "Time's Up." Other members include Buckwild and Fat Joe, but in a tragic irony the group's most pre-eminent figure now is the late Harlem MC Big L. While he initially came off as a dope younger version of Lord Finesse, it's clear from his numerous appearances on this release that he was just coming into his own and the MC's witty punch-lines on his crowning achievement, "Ebonics," are included via a DJ Premier reworking. While Big L shines posthumously, given the certified classic material the group members have issued in the past, the album is a little bit of a letdown. Sure, the no-frills approach to the beats and rhymes is invigorating throughout, but it feels like something is missing from the package. The collective boasts several proven producers, yet some contributed minimally to the project and as an unfortunate result of the album's constant delays many of the best tracks have already hit mix tapes and college radio. Even though it functions admirably as a tribute to Big L and as a stirring showcase on how to rock fundamental beats and rhymes, D.I.T.C. regretfully falls short of restoring the individual group members to their former status. (Tommy Boy)