Word Perfect in 1999
This is a great compilation showcasing that Cali underground sound from the genre's golden age. Back in the day before file-sharing went supernova, the compilation record was my primary means of discovering new acts to obsess over. I would name OD's Beneath the Surface as the little earthquake that got the boulder rolling for me, but this comp, which came out a year later, certainly opened my eyes a little more (along with other notable comps The Funky Precedent, Connect the Dots, Strength Magazine's Subtext, Graffiti Kings, Ropeladder 12, etc, etc, ad nauseum).
OLC is a strong collection both beat-wise and lyrically. Produced entirely by D.J. Desue, this comp showcases the formula of a fine and varied selection of lyricists paired with a single beatmaker (Like Elusive's records, or OD's for that matter). What attracted me to it initially was the array of talent present that I had already heard about. Medusa and Aceyalone provide a track together, as do Rakaa of Dilated, Tash of Alkoholiks, and Defari. Akil and Charlie 2Na from Jurassic also represent, as well as Styles of Beyond. And the cherry on top, which would have made me fork over the cash no matter what, was the inclusion of the exclusive Freestyle Fellowship track "Hungry". Once again, Jupiter proves himself as a lyrical and stylistic madman, with P.E.A.C.E. not far behind. Acey and Mikah are okay too, I guess :)
With any compilation, the greatest strength lies in opening the listener's ears to new sounds, and OLC certainly didn't disappoint me here. I was still pretty green to the whole scene at that time, and OLC helped me discover a few new notable talents. Surprisingly Desue presents quite a varied musical palate, sculpting his sound to compliment each emcee: dramatic string arrangements carry Chase Infinite's "Kinetic Energy", while in contrast a solitary, reverbed harp loop pushes Phats Bossilini's "The Boss" (Truly a track worth pushing the repeat button). Blak Forest (who I already knew about and obsessed over) represent with two characteristically strong tracks from Shaydie Third Degree (using brass loops to impressive effect) and Otherwize. Wize is of course brilliant, and Desue's smooth, driving beat causes a serious head nod. Divine Universal made his only known appearance to me on this comp, and it was truly a memorable one. I'd love to know if he ever released anything else. Left (of Frontline), the hella dope Peeps Game, Phil Da Agony of the Likwit Crew, Kontaijuss, and the Barbershop Emcee's also represent with high-energy tracks.
See? Strong from beginning end. Definitely worth listening to a few hundred times. Peep, pimp.