Various Hip Hop 101

Executive produced by De La Soul, this compilation is essentially a showcase for Tommy Boy's Black Label, which has been steadily recruiting underground groups to its ranks. As hinted at by the name of the compilation, unadorned beats and rhymes are the order of the day. De La Soul's "So Good" with the Camp Lo and "Words & Verbs" by the Strong Island trio's DJ Maseo indicate that De La Soul have shelved the downcast vibes of "Stakes Is High" for a jovial mood for their imminent full-length. Among the rest of the solid, if not groundbreaking, bunch is "I See" by Medina Green, which features Mos Def's brother as a member, and Da Matrix's "Beat Biter," the latter along with Strick and Royce. The 5'9"'s "It's Over" probably takes the back-to-basics approach of the compilation too literally, by recycling old-school hooks a little too casually. (Tommy Boy)