Tunnel Rats/Various Presents Underground Rise Vol. 1: Sunrise/Sunset

Finally, Uprok Records lives up to their potential with their best release to date; yeah, Tunnel Rats Presents Underground Rise Vol. 1 is even better than previous title holder, Deepspace 5’s The Night We Called It A Day. The central figures of this compilation of sorts are, of course, the Tunnel Rats, but there are guest appearances by many of the Uprok regulars (manCHILD of Mars ILL, Playdough of Ill Harmonics, Listener of Deepspace 5, Mass Reality and more) as well as underground hip-hop heroes both secular and Christian (L.A. Symphony, LMNO and 2Mex). With rappers representing east, west and south, there’s a large variety of flows, and primary producer Dust presents a mix of sounds. However, this album, mostly recorded over one weekend, is held together by a solid hip-hop skeleton encased in the Holy Spirit. The result is a diverse album that should appeal to a broad audience. Two massive posse cuts, "One Voice” and "Remember This Day,” present shining moments from the likes of Pigeon John, Zane, Jurny Big, 2Mex and Dert, and "Devil’s Advocate” takes care of the concepts. The Dirty South in is in the house on "Southern Brutality,” while "Doing Life” gets a little too jiggy and "Lost” is the requisite, and unfortunate Uprok sappy ballad. Still, these last two songs are the only low moments on this superb collaborative project that is best summed up by one of the MCs on the first interlude: "I think this whole weekend is bringing the best out of everybody.” (Uprok)