Underground Cartel Dropzone

Scottish producer Kruze (of Belles in Monica) decided he wanted to make a truly international release. So he produced a few beats, came up with some concepts, and handed both over to a handful of handpicked rappers from Canada, the United States and France, forming the loose knit Underground Cartel. Unfortunately, the mixing of MCs with certain concepts and beats sometimes comes off as fairly arbitrary, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of structure to the songs at times. Still, I’m proud to say the Canucks — Mindbender, Ill Seer, Selfhelp and Fritz the Cat — come correct. On "Snipers,” a song that answers accusations of rap music as a cause of violence, Fritz the Cat has the unenviable position of being odd man out amongst friends, yet flips his style to pull off the EP’s most impressive verse. "Seconds Out” warns of the dumbing down of popular culture with the best collaborative combination and a nice beat. The original mix of "Whatta Good Thing” is a catchy, feel-good song celebrating the collaborative spirit, but it doesn’t deserve that rape of a remix that’s included. On the other hand, a remix would have suited "Never Givin Way,” the worst beat on the EP and the only song to get the instrumental treatment, although when Selfhelp rides the beat like it’s a carnival ride it forces me to re-evaluate my feelings for it. Underground Cartel may be a little rough around the edges, but it’s a concept worth exploring. (New Dawn)