Labtekwon Avant God

While others are talking about taking hip-hop to the next level, Labtekwon is doing it. Described by Chuck D as "the Thelonius Monk of the rap game,” Labtekwon’s most recent release is an experiment in freeform hip-hop. Avant God has a lot in common with Awol One & Daddy Kev’s Slanguage from a couple of years back, except it comes off as a much better planned project. Max Mineblo’s production is predominantly composed of muddy drums mixed with a minimalist variety of keyboard effects, although a number of tracks do contain varying degrees of live instrumentation. While there is a strong spiritual vibe to the oft abstract lyrics, Labtekwon is not afraid to diss stagnant, wack rappers — and with "Won Time” he even takes shots at the Heiroglyphics crew for being soft and not nearly as experimental as their name would suggest. With one foot reaching for the future of rap, Labtekwon straddles hip-hop with his other foot firmly planted in the past, referencing hip-hop heroes like Kool Keith and Mobb Deep and spewing a small spattering of quotes from many hip-hop classics; he even stakes his claim as the "King of Kings.” Like any experimental album, Avant God is not always successful, but Labtekwon has created an album that not only moves hip-hop music forward but also serves as his best album to date. (Morphius)