Various Battle Axe Warriors Compilation

Vancouver's Swollen Members have made a name for themselves through their self-sufficient hustle, and this compilation is the latest from their Battle Axe label. On their full-length release, Balance, they recruited an enviable guest list of underground U.S. West Coast MCs and producers, and some of those contacts are used once again on this compendium release. While there are a variety of producers on board, including Mad Lib (of Lootpack and Quasimoto), Paul Nice and Evidence (Dilated Peoples), the thematic strain of the beats remains endearingly spare. Undiluted mic skills and dexterity are the focus of the MCs, with Moka Only standing out in particular. His tag-team collaborations with LMNO ("Team Work") and Abstract Rude ("Rolling Along") are among the best of the tracks, which also includes LMNO's head-bobbing "Elbow Room," the maniacal presence of Buc Fifty and the Swollen Members themselves. As with most compilations, there are a few weak points, but there's definitely enjoyable fare here for you if either you've been following these underground artists for awhile or only heard about Swollen Members after they recently won the Best Rap Recording at the Junos. (Battle Axe)