K-Otix Universal

The edgy, ominous rhymes of the Geto Boys and Scarface, Houston's most visible hip-hop products, don't give you an inkling of what to expect from H-Town's K-Otix. This trio, made up of MCs Mic, Damien and DJ/producer Russel, instead have clearly modelled their sound on the gritty, choppy New York underground sound typified by DJ Premier, himself an ex-Houston resident. What makes this album stand out is its pound for pound consistency. The MCs hold down their skills, displaying a knack for conceptual rhymes with clever takes on old topics ("Love Song") while showing serious chemistry with each other. There isn't any filler here, and the relentlessly intriguing beats draw strings, plaintive guitar licks and atmospheric keys into potent head-nodding arrangements. The cumulative effect is a highly enjoyable experience in no-frills hip-hop, and the inclusion of the underground hit "World Renown" is just the icing on the cake. (Bronx Science)