Hotbox & Suave/Various Present Cross Country: A Canadian Hip-hop Collaborative

Hotbox & Suave’s Cross Country is a solid compilation of the next generation of rappers on the come-up in the Maritimes. Sure, there are appearances from a few artists from outside of the Maritimes — Dragon Fli Empire, Shortop, NoBS, DJ the Cheese, Non-Status, and a few that have relocated but claim the East Coast as their birthplace — so the title isn’t totally misleading, but the East Coast emphasis is evident. It’s irrelevant though, since Cross Country is primarily an opportunity for producers Hotbox & Suave to display their skills on the boards for a variety of MCs with different styles, even if the duo is not always successful. A few MCs are favoured with excessive mic time while others get far too little time, but the Backburner crew of Wordburglar, Jesse Dangerously, Jay Bizzy, Frank Deluxe and Johnny Hardcore, stand out most often, as does Radar, Bush, Lee Fitz and the non-Maritimes artists. The shout-out interludes are a little annoying and would work better if this "mix-tape” actually blended into a continuous mix. Still, Cross Country works great as a sampler and jump-off point for discovering some new Canadian talent. (ECI)