Various Rap Essentials: The Rebirth

No longer a 100% Canadian affair, the new reincarnation of the Rap Essentials is a mixture of domestic tracks and artists from BMG's ranks. The Canadian content that remains is assuredly good, but its focus is only on Canada's most visible artists. Solid contributions include Infinite's "Take A Look," Kardinal Offishall's raucous "Put 'Em Up" and the Rascalz with their ubiquitous "Northern Touch." Mathematik, Michee Mee and Ghetto Concept among others also add to the native fare. Where the compilation does break new ground is with the acknowledgement of Francophone hip-hop, with the inclusion of Quebec groups Muzion and Dubmatique. The rest of the album is a curious assortment of tracks that are from soundtracks, previously unreleased or readily available. While Mobb Deep's "Rare Species" gets a welcome return, Wu-Tang Clan's "Sunshower" explains why it was only available on the UK version of Wu-Tang Forever. Despite the drastic reduction in the overall Canadian content of this compilation, Rap Essentials: The Rebirth shows that the home team can hang with the big boys, but lack of continuity and not lack of choice cuts is its main fault. (BMG)