Hundred Strong Strength of A Hundred

With the beats of UK producers now routinely accompanying the flows of reputed MCs on recent projects by the Creators and the Nextmen, and UK MCs increasingly asserting their own identity, British hip-hop is developing in leaps and bounds. This is confirmed on Strength of A Hundred, the first full-length album issued from Bristol-based Hombre records. Hundred Strong, aka Ben Dubuisson of down-tempo combo Purple Penguin, provides the beats here for artists such as Montreal's Obscure Disorder and Grandmaster Garner, and Chicago's All Natural and Allstar. While Obscure Disorder, A-Trak and Allstar acquaint themselves well to Hundred Strong's ominous and moody creations, All Natural's disappointing plodding contribution, "All Natural," is puzzlingly included twice. Thankfully, the UK MCs pick up the slack and bring unmatched passion to the mic, taking full advantage of any transcontinental indifference. The Binary Brothers ("Built To Last") and Taskforce, with their excellent smooth and rugged soul-baring entry "Sword Lies Broken," complement the potent ambience cast by Hundred Strong. (Hombre)