Published Mar 11, 2015After seven strong years providing a nurturing home to a bumper crop of hungry and highly skilled new school MCs and producers, tier-one indie hip-hop label Mello Music Group look to resurrect the art of the statement-making label compilation with Persona. Each featured artist brings their A-game to this spotlighting affair, crafting timely, message-laced raps over largely complementary soulful beats that do more than simply showcase talent, but in many cases actually give listeners pause while still working toward the cohesion of the record.
Opening cut "Requiem" sets the bar up high and lays a blueprint for many of the tracks to follow, with Oddisee and Phonte laying their frustrations bare about racial discrimination and violence in the U.S. yU, Ras Kass, Open Mike Eagle, Red Pill and Oh No each follow suit with their own equally potent socially conscious or personally reflective verses, while notable productions by L'Orange in particular, along with Exile, Tall Black Guy and the Oddisee himself each serve as clear standouts. With Kool Keith, Gift of Gab and Masta Ace along to bridge the gap between graduating classes, Persona rounds out nicely and succeeds rather convincingly at being much more than just collection of off-album throwaways. (Mello Music Group)