Lemon Grove, California-based record label, Syntax Records, is well-known by fans of underground hip hop. While the label does have several artists outside of the genre, it's most well-known for the likes of LA Symphony, Sackcloth Fashion, and the incomparable RedCloud. And every so often, a collection of these and various other artists comes around. January 2008 marks the newest of such releases, Night Owls 4: A Shot In The Dark.
Most of the artists involved are mainly underground giants, but the talent is not left behind. The duo of Cookbook & UNO Mas, who provide the jam "Always Shine," make for one of the best songs on the album. Cookbook sounds almost identical to The Cross Movement's Phanatik, and is quite comparable in style as well. In "Live & Direct," Paradox sounds like he was born to rap, especially with a pretty impressive flow on the second verse. The intelligence and well-thought-out flow is what makes hip hop so unique, and it's what proves the talent of hip hop artists. And few people can spit a verse like RedCloud, who makes an appearance at the end of the disc with "21 Jump Street," where he showcases his fast-paced rapping ability. Even RedCloud's partner in crime, DJ Wise, gets some time on the album, appearing in several tracks, and also having his own interlude track halfway through the compilation.
Other highlights include Page One & Because playing with words on "Emceeing Is Believing," and Kaboose calling on two Deepspace 5 members (manCHILD and Playdough) to complete the track "Knuckle Up." Disappointments arrived a couple times as well, though. theBREAX's track "We Will Not Stop" is very outspoken, almost to the point of cockiness. Lines like "They crack jokes when they find out I'm celebate, but I've never been in the clinic sweating waiting for the evidence" seem, at first, to be just defensive, despite truthful. But when the whole song is full of lines like that, it almost seems as if he's just talking about how great of a Christian he is. Another letdown, although very very minor, is the extremely creepy sample used on Listener's "Older Than I Was Before." However, Listener's unique style almost makes up for it.
If you want good flows, creative beats, and more collaborations than you can touch with a 39 and a half foot pole, look no further. Night Owls 4: A Shot In The Dark is what you want. One of the best compilations to be released as of late, in any genre of music.- PReview date: 12/1/07, Review: 12/30/07 written by Scott Fryberger
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