Masterminds Stone Soup

If heavy hip-hop hits are what you're looking for, these NYC sons of the Public Enemy political movement have just the right recipe. The duo of Kimani Rogers and Tarik Holder (aka Masterminds) infuse their hip-hop with psychedelic rock, afro-funk and electronica, creating aggressive, multi-layered productions that add texture to their introspective and socially aware lyrical onslaught. Hard drum loops and cranked-up guitar samples are the standard for Stone Soup, the sophomore follow-up to their 2000 debut, The Underground Railroad, but this merger isn't the end of the road for the Masterminds' experimentation. "Stone Planet," another formidable addition to planet rock, which was first introduced by Afrika Bambaata, picks up the tempo from the current crop of lyrical slowpokes, and "September in New York," a beautifully honest appraisal of the 9-11 disaster and its aftermath, dabbles in electronica and drum & bass. Also touching is their ode to their mothers, "2 Moms," which gets emotional and political. The sole guest, Living Legend member Murs, also turns in a good appearance on "Step by Step," even if his appearance on the track seems to be more of an afterthought. There are also some powerful moments amongst their normally heavy hip-hop sounds, with tracks such as the grinding guitar opener "The 3rd Movement," which introduces their new label Third Earth Music, a more psychedelic "Subliminal" and a bass-focused "Before All Hell Breaks Loose." But that's not to say that any of the other tracks on this 14-song CD are less worthy of a listen. Standout production, almost flawless flows and music with a message makes Stone Soup a magical concoction that is best when the whole bowl is devoured. Tastes great and is more filling. (Third Earth)