Various Underground Crown Holders

Over the past ten years Grand Central has been putting out some heavyweight hip-hop numbers with some of the genre’s legends dropping verses you may not have heard before. For those who have slept on this UK label, this is a good time to get caught up to speed as label boss Mark Rae (along with Steve Christian) is personally responsible for putting out the best Pharcyde and Jungle Brothers tunes since both fell off years ago. The same can be said for Aim’s fantastic collaboration with Souls of Mischief on the wonderfully upbeat "No Restriction,” which shows that you just need a true school cat like Andy Turner to give life back to the formerly amazing Hiero crew. When there aren’t American wordsmiths like AG and Afu-Ra spitting lyrics over fantastic production there is the stunning instrumentals to fill in the gaps, such as Fingathing’s Peter Parker letting loose on the decks with Dual Control or the brilliant title track from Aim. If the impressive joints on the first disc don’t convince you how vital Grand Central has been to hip-hop in the past decade, then the Funky Fresh Few’s mixing mash-up on the second disc should have you believing. Combining the majority of the songs on this greatest hits compilation along with some non-hip-hop cuts from Niko and others, the Funky Fresh Few celebrate the label’s ten year stand in grand fashion. This is essential listening from a very under appreciated label. (Grand Central)