Main Flow Hip Hopulation

Inviting an entire team of A-list MCs to drop verses on your album is a bit like letting your smooth-talking boy tag along when meeting a girl for the first time — there’s always the threat of your presence being completely forgotten. While this isn’t quite the fate met by the former MOOD member on his full-length solo debut, having what amounts to a lyrical chaperone on 90 percent of the album’s tracks hasn’t made his job any easier. On Hip Hopulation, Main Flow shares his mic time with no less than Talib Kweli, Black Thought, Planet Asia, Mikah 9 and Defari, and provides for some interesting, though uneven and, in some cases, disappointing results. On (is) "Hip Hop Worth Dying For,” Kweli poses the question over an operatic hook before he and Flow rip into whack MCs for disrespecting the genre. "Loving The Game” features the most fluid collabo on the album, with Main Flow and Planet Asia trading rhymes about life on the block and in the hustle, on a RZA-reminiscent track by Reason. More often that not, however, Flow tends to be outshone by his guests. Most of the record, save for a few thoughtless hooks and some seemingly unfinished production (check J-Rawls on "Delivery Tactics,” with a soul-break for a hook that’s completely off pitch with the rest of the track), is a pretty strong showing of what the MC is capable of. Throw away a couple of missteps — a forgettable freestyle by Hi-Tek, for example — and we’re left with a decent solo effort from this Cincinnati-based MC. (Brick)