Various Lexoleum One

Boom Bip opens up the first in Lex's new series of twelve-inch compilations with the first track he's released since working with Dose One on the highly regarded Circle album, released by Mush last year. The beat is definitely good and entertaining, a difficult task for an instrumental track that clocks in at six minutes. However, it's still way too long as an album opener. A better start for Lexoleum One would have been the following track, Tes's "Big Shots." Tes lays down a piano-heavy beat with banging drums accompanied by military parade snares. For the chorus, he cuts up "Big Shots" with his voice, à la Rahzel. With his own distinct vocal style, Tes relates the loose story of a gun-happy NYC dweller that stands as a metaphor for Tes's role within hip-hop. A tight track that stands out, it is the anchor to side A. Side B has two exceptional tracks; it opens with the Non-Prophets' "Come Come Now." Over a deep piano loop with tinkling keys for the chorus (courtesy of Joe Beats), Sage Francis works the sex song angle with his witty wordplay chock full of one-liners and quotables. The compilation also ends on a high-note with the bass-heavy "People Skillz (Say Werd)" from Disflex6. The production might be enough to declare the song a success, but Jason and Laz hold it down on the mic, too, with some braggin' and dissing that avoids clichés. Now, as cool as it might be that an England-based label has released four fantastic (and exclusive) underground tracks from the U.S., that's not all you get. Two British groups get this opportunity to make their debut. Mummy Fortuna's Theatre Company close out side A with "The Toy Chest," a good song but eerily similar to the Anticon label's work, while Cosyne's "Phonesex" is wedged between two of the album's best tracks, and is a major disappointment with its teasing ventures on the border of techno. Still, five out of six isn't bad. (Lex)