Rhythmicru Open Canvas

After a generic "look at us, we're artists" intro and a rather lengthy song that's nothing special, Open Canvas suddenly explodes thanks to a run of short songs showcasing a variety of flows over funky beats. Production is shared between Craig Harper and D-Ray the Kid, both of whom mostly impress but occasionally disappoint. On "Gimme 5 Minutes," D-Ray gives us two minutes, 48 seconds of freestyle that brings to mind early Snoop Dogg on a sinister drum-heavy track dominated by bass funk. Cale Sampson comes off most often, especially so on his solos: "Distractions," critiquing the trend for people to seek out their 15 minutes (or more) of fame, and "Facts of War: Part One," a dissection of Bush and U.S. imperialism. D-Ray and Batho are on a Tony Da Skitzo sing-song steez with "High Tonight," and Batho and Cale Sampson pull off the requisite posse cut on "Inner City Madness" with guests BRKWD and MC Arod. Open Canvas may have too many interludes and some of the longer songs do wear thin, but Rhythmicru have put together a debut album that shows much potential, and some nice samples, too. (After Midnight)