Various Soundbombing 3

The last few months have seen the fortunes of independent rap labels take a sharp nosedive. Rawkus's roster is now part of MCA, and this third instalment of their landmark series is the first release from this relationship. Unfortunately the path taken by Rawkus's other franchise, the Lyricist Lounge, is mirrored on this record. Like Volume II of that series, Soundbombing 3 lacks a basis in what made the series so essential in the first place. With DJ Evil Dee's exclamations of "Come on kick it!" and DJ Babu's cutting it up precisely, the first two volumes put the DJ putting the mix-tape together front and centre in the action. Here, DJs Mr. Choc and Cipha Sounds seem way more interested in inane phone calls than actually paying attention to the music, and the flow of the CD ultimately stutters. Unfortunately it's not like many of the selections would stand up well by themselves. While previous volumes showcased the label's impressive releases and capitalised on its substantial indie clout, Volume 3 is ultimately notable for its lack of focus. The messy "Freak Daddy" is easily the worst thing Mos Def has committed to tape, and no matter how many times the DJs try to juggle the beat on Jonell's "Round and Round," they can't make the song, which is now almost two years old, sound fresh. That said, patience is rewarded by "Yelling Away," Zap Mama's collaboration with Common & Talib Kweli, and the Roots's "Rhymes & Ammo," but artists like Skillz and the Beatnuts don't bring the goods like they usually do. In the place of the mediocre tracks by industry vets, energised newbies could have been included. There was a chance to do this with the track "My Life." Originally performed by Tribeca - an MC delivering an impassioned rhyme about succeeding in sports - his vocals are dropped for this compilation for inferior lyrics by flavour-of-the-hour MC Styles P, of the Lox. Unfortunately that is really all you need to know about this disappointing release. (Rawkus)