Felonious Live City

It is apparent that MC Dan Wolf (aka d.wolf of Felonious) fervently subscribes to the "hold the mic like a grudge" school of MCing. But it underscores the issues that plague many an act known more for their live shows ― that it's difficult for the energy and frenetic vibe to translate in the studio. Not impossible, but difficult. Billed as "San Francisco's premiere live hip-hop music and theater collective," Live City is a clear attempt to recreate that live aesthetic: keys, drums, guitar and bass. Acknowledging that recording live hip-hop is a huge challenge, the group trudge forward. MC/beatboxer Carlos Aguirre (aka Infinite) and MC/beatboxer/drummer Tommy Shepherd (aka Soulati) join d.wolf in capturing that live experience. Felonious take full advantage of the studio environment on tracks like solid warm-up "Don't Move" or "Misunderstood," which takes the overexposed "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" sample and does a nice job of it, with capable lyrics and nice instrumentation. A joint like "Soul Man," however, sounds raw and better suited for a live show. Live City successfully showcases the band's flair and eclecticism. Whether this will appeal to new listeners is up for debate. (Independent)