Tha Liks X.O. Experience

After Tash's embarrassing commercial attempt at Raplife, Tha Alkaholiks's X.O. Experience is not only an unexpected return for Tha Liks, but it is also one hell of a record, full of surprises. For example, J-Ro attempts some alliteration with the letters in "L-I-K-S," despite coming off short compared to earlier (and much better) songs by Blackalicious ("A to the G" and "Alphabet Aerobics") and 2Mex (far too many to name). Still, it's good to hear some artists that have a chance to reach a larger audience putting some effort into their wordplay, even if the content of the album may primarily be about alcohol - they are the Alkaholics, after all. The music from E-Swift are the staggering boozy beats built for drunk dancers and intoxicated MCs. "Goin' Crazy" and "Bar Code" flip the typical sounds into banging, epic movements while "40 OZ Quartet Part 1 and 2" is ingeniously created from the sound of blowing on beer bottle necks, Bob and Doug Mackenzie-style. The Neptunes, Rockwilder, DJ Twinz and DJ Scratch all contribute beats, but none fit Tha Liks as well as E-Swift's - Tash, J-Ro and E-Swift sound like they were born to rhyme over those beats. Guests King T, Xzibit, Defari and the others come off well too, whether over an E-Swift beat or one from a guest. In fact, even Busta Rhymes sounds like a return to his old self (or at least what he was on his solo debut, The Coming). Tha Liks proclaim, "Peace out to Canada, these fools can hang," on "Run Wild." It's our duty as Canadians to prove them right by downing a copy of X.O. Experience, preferably at a party. (Sony)