Ken Starr Starr Status

Low Budget crew members Kev Brown, Oddisee and Kenn Starr have been making significant ripples in the underground for the past few years, consistently turning in solid, down-to-earth hip-hop crafted largely around self-produced, soul-oriented beats and slice-of-life rhymes. Here the three unite to give their best for Starr’s sophomore release Starr Status, a showcase of the Virginia MC’s versatile flow that blends battle rap braggadocio with thought provoking images of self-development. "Against The Grain” kicks off the record with an interesting shower of harp runs laid over Illmind’s snappy beat, before Kev Brown goes to work both on the mic and the boards for the observational slow-burner "Relentless.” Starr continues his quest to decipher the worldly ills with some passable assistance from Asheru and Talib Kweli on the Oddisee-produced "If,” a billing that promises so much on paper but never quite reaches the heights you’d imagine. The one true drawback to this whole experience is the record’s leading Starr, who at times rhymes with the enthusiasm of someone curled up in an armchair, even when his lyrics suggest a man anxiously gripping the mic with both hands. That said, the record doesn’t disappoint, and offers another choice example of what these Low Budget cats are up to. (Halftooth)