Various Welcome to the Land of the Lost

I'll forgive Nine Planets HipHop for giving their debut compilation nearly the same title as Hip Club Groove's second album, since they have compiled a fine collection of songs to showcase this Ottawa label. There's no sense trying to fool anyone, Land of the Lost all hinges on central figure DL, whether it's beats or rhymes. Eight of the 17 tracks (that includes interludes) feature DL either on solo vocals or as a guest, and all songs except the intro, outro and a live track were produced by DL, too. The beats are rugged and raw; the kind producers brag are tailor-made for street credibility. The lyrics to Essanh's "Struggle" and DL's "Hand Cuffs," featuring Essanh, certainly don't hurt this street cred, either. But given more emphasis are rhymes extolling the virtues of hip-hop and its roots in the streets, the best of these being DL and Essanh's "Street Caviar" and its completely different remix, which is really a whole new song. Other album highlights are "Two Letters," by DL, "Freestyle?," by DL featuring Kid SL, and "Prime Time," by Exampl featuring DL. The songs tend to be more metaphors and punch-line heavy than story-based, but what really makes the vocals work so well are the flows that blend decent lyrics and good beats to create a better song as a whole. Perhaps it's DL's exceptional flow and abundant presence that makes what could have been just another label sampler into a much better compilation. (Nine Planets HipHop)