Marvel No Streets EP

Toronto MC Marvel first emerged as a member of the ten-deep Circle crew that spawned the careers of Kardinal Offishall, Choclair and Saukrates. It was with the latter that he traded jaw-dropping verses on the grim resignation of the minimalist "Hate Runs Deep,” unquestionably one of the finest tracks to emerge from Toronto’s late ’90s hip-hop resurgence. While this new eight-song EP showcases Marvel working with some notables, their appearances complement rather than overshadow and fit into his established style. Saukrates’ reggae-tinged riddim for "Skankin” sets the table for Marvel’s potent formula. Marvel balances the head-nodding immediacy of his production with his intricate stream-of-consciousness flow that once digested, affirms his insightful poetic flair. Kardinal Offishall’s body-jarring drums show up to score the title track while Marvel’s underdog lyrics represent the silent majority. Marvel is also aided and abetted by K-OS who croons the hook on the off-kilter "Cobwebz” and blesses the mic on a reworked version of his own "Follow Me,” lamenting a sheep mentality — something that Marvel cannot be accused of on this evidence. (Independent)