Awesome Collective Vol. 1 (Awesome Collective/DKD) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The Canadian major-label "urban" signing frenzy of a few years ago might be long gone, but there clearly is plenty of raw talent worthy of a shot at the big time. Awesome Collective Vol. 1 brings together six Canadian underground hiphop and soul players - Big Black Lincoln, Keiko, Bishop, Kuya, Reign and Jenna G - on one showcase set that, aside from the pop fluff of Jenna G and the watered-down soul of Kuya, is largely dud-free. The hand of Saukrates and his BBL production crew hangs heavy here, bringing a trademark thump to his soul/house pet project, Big Black Lincoln, and tracks by Keiko and the unpredictable rhymes of up-and-coming MC Reign. The Domenic Troiano-produced Keiko cuts hit hard, as do the three fierce songs by Bishop, who proves he's as comfortable in the studio as he is demolishing opponents in freestyle battles. The underground remains strong.