Hilltop Hoods State of the Art

State of the Art, the fifth album by Australian rap veterans Hilltop Hoods, is a hip-hop album aimed squarely at hardcore heads. There are no electro influences, no rock hybridization and no overtures to pop fans. Instead, State of the Art offers clever, intricate lyricism, courtesy of MCs Suffa and Pressure, and thick, sample-heavy beats of the sort not seen since the early '90s. The undoubted highlight of the album is "The Light You Burned," which takes a sample from '60s psych/soul outfit Giant Crab and turns it into a sing-along chorus. Similarly, "Still Standing" is built around a chunk of an old Junjo Lawes beat. State of the Art manages the near-impossible: to wear its retro influences proudly while still looking forward, rather than just wishing for the return of the good old days. (Golden Era/Universal)