Various Eastern Conference All-Stars Volume 2

Despite severing ties with Rawkus earlier this year, Mr. Eon and DJ Mighty Mi, the duo known as the High & Mighty, are keeping things moving with their second compilation, which showcases their Eastern Conference label. Some of the usual suspects, like Cage and Skillz (formerly known as Mad Skillz), appear alongside relative veterans like Jurassic 5, Big Daddy Kane and Kool Keith. The disparate styles of the MCs are held together by the production, with the Alchemist, who was behind the Smut Peddlers' "The Red Light," and DJ Mighty Mi handling the bulk of the work with dramatic flair. His partner, Mr. Eon, possesses one of those "take it or leave it flows," and to be honest, he sounds better when teamed up with other MCs. On "That's What's Up," he teams up for a nice collaboration with the Last Emperor, but anyone feeling the High & Mighty track "Fake Thug's Theme" should be automatically redirected to Son of Bazerk's "J-Dub's Theme," the vastly superior track it directly rips off. Allusions to the past are handled much more reverentially, with ex-Artifact Tame One's "The Moment I Feared," an impressive nod to Slick Rick. It's this subtle balance between the old and new, whether through music or the artists featured, which makes this compilation more than just a collection of random tracks. (Landspeed)