Various Beneath The Surface

Somehow, the West Coast keeps dropping dope underground compilation after dope underground compilation. Of course, Beneath The Surface is another example of this strange phenomenon. It doesn’t hurt to have representation from the greatest hip-hop crews in the underground: Alien Nation, Of Mexican Descent, Dilated Peoples, Freestyle Fellowship, Shapeshifters, Global Phlowtations. Although there are a few exceptions, Beneath The Surface is basically organised as a compilation of posse cuts featuring members from different crews rhyming with each other. What separates this from most posse cuts out there (read: major label marketing team-ups), is that the emcees on each track flow together completely naturally. There are a few low moments where the vibe gets kind of shaky, but they are very few and easily overwhelmed by the large number of fabulous tracks. Beneath The Surface starts with Alien Nation’s Phoenix Orion and Orion South on “Beneath The Surface,” a hard track that mixes their space-aged rhymes with a who’s who of artist’s appearing on this compilation. “Beneath The Surface” is matched only by a few other tracks such as “Farmer’s Market Of The Beast” featuring Xololanxinco (from Of Mexican Descent), All Deadly Jizzm, Radio Inactive, and Awol One and Circus (from Shapeshifters) and “Little Piece Of Heaven” by Awol One. “Farmer’s Market Of The Beast” is interesting for the attempt by the emcees to rhyme like different animals. Freestyle Fellowship steps forward with two tracks that deserve some recognition: “When The Sun Took A Day Off And The Moon Stood Still” featuring Aceyalone, Self Jupiter and P.E.A.C.E., and “You Are In My Clutches” featuring P.E.A.C.E. with cuts by Kutmaster Kurt. As well, emcees like Circus (“Night And Day”), Xololanxinco (“Who’s Keeping Time?” and “Night And Day”) and St. Mark 9:23 (Who’s Keeping Time?” and “Line Postin’ In Pedro”), all demonstrate they have the skills to pay the bills, for sure. Plus, St. Mark 9:23 has the best name I’ve heard from a hip-hop artist in a long time. Beneath The Surface is a perfect introduction to the different groups in the West Coast underground and should be in every head’s collection. (Celestial)