Phatt Al Summa Skool EP (New Empire) Rating: NNN
Local hiphop underground stalwart PHATT al's consistency is impressive. The MC's broken-down flow and inward-looking rhymes aren't likely to break him wide open to the mainstream market, but the guy's been a constant on Toronto's subterranean scene for years. Summa Skool is more high-drama hiphop, with PHATT al replacing the live-band-inspired energy of his shows with more straightforward studio beats. The soul-inspired collaborations with Kayte Burgess and Ivana Santilli work best, straddling the chasm between underground hiphop and pure pop. Less successful are the endless interludes and fake interviews that turn what could be a tight five- or six-song EP into a 13-track epic.