Various Up North Trip Volume 4

As the final preparations get underway for the 11th annual Under Pressure graffiti showcase, Up North Trip Volume 4 documents the event through CD and DVD. The CD is a compilation of mostly smooth hip-hop tracks that focus on hip-hop life, braggadocio and clever punch lines. While a little Toronto-centric, the comp does represent a pretty good cross-section of Canada over its 18 tracks with appearances by proven mic masters like Classified, Eternia, Josh Martinez and Nish Raawks, as well as lesser-known local heroes like NWNB (who drop by with Moka Only), Dragon Fli Empire (with Touch and Chaz), A n’ E, Embassy, and Ken Masters & Daetona. This final duo set expectations unattainably high with "Back the Back,” a hype, groovy track that comes hard on the heels of A-Trak’s scratch session introduction to both the comp and the event. On the other hand, the DVD is a year-by-year evolution of the event through all four elements of hip-hop with a background soundtrack scored by Simahlak. A-Trak, who appeared at the inaugural Under Pressure in 1996 at the tender age of 14, also experiences a parallel evolution of sorts. Although he gets his original sound for a couple of his scratch sessions, it would have been nice to hear from the other DJ and MC acts, too. Overall it’s a nice package, but why some two-year old songs were used is a disappointing mystery. (Audio Research)