Sweatshop Union Water Street

Named after Vancouver’s historic road on the waterfront, where luxury and poverty meet, Sweatshop Union, now loosened from Battle Axe Records and 100 percent independent, have toned down their righteous rhetoric for a more humble one. The change is significant and announced on opener "Now,” where a Union member raps, "Flash back five years/We was brave and dumb/Wanna rap, change the world, rearrange the sun… Now we jaded.” "Gold Rush,” "Said and Done,” "Oh My” and "Shoot Low” (featuring Moka Only, Canada's version of a Lil’ Wayne cameo) are more testaments to this jadedness. With very bass-y beats and a heavy reliance on Kyprios-sung hooks, Water Street has a bluesy feel. It’s not all gloom, of course, because even hardships remind them of life’s perverse sense of humour. At 23 tracks — no skits but some great instrumentals and cuts — it’s a long, albeit very smooth, listen. (Sweatshop Union)