Crown City Rockers Earthtones

Since this live hip-hop outfit issued the promising "One” a couple of years ago under the name Mission:, they’ve undergone a couple of changes. While the most obvious is their new name, the group also lost one of their MCs (Moe Pope), who left the group. Thankfully, Earthtones also definitively showcases that their other changes have yielded positive results. Crown City Rockers refuse to dismiss sampling and crate-digging, welcoming it into their jazz fusion-dipped set-up, effortlessly creating an accomplished polished sound that makes this record an intensely enjoyable listen. Over Kat Ouano’s versatile keyboard work and the measured production of Headnodic and Woodstock, MC Rahsaan Ahmad’s blue-collar charm shines — whether commanding the blissful "B-Boy,” or handling the unenviable task of holding his own with the mercury-tongued Gift of Gab on "Fortitude.” Having elevated their chops and their internal chemistry vastly on this release, Crown City Rockers might want to think twice before they change anything else in this winning formula. (Basement)