Various Artists : Rasco Presents 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea Volume 1

Underground hip-hop's Rasco unleashes a compilation of some of the finest independent rap...

The premier release from underground hip-hop protagonist Rasco’s Pockets Linted imprint is a demonstration of an age-old aphorism, KISS. ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ has got to be one of the greatest pieces of advice to give to the creative mind. In the fruitless attempt to be profound, a lot of underground artists miss the obvious, the pure and the simple.

The pure and the simple are elements Rasco, as a solo artist, thrives on. And it’s a philosophy he implements immaculately as the overseer of this compilation album. The protagonists involved will only be familiar to those well-versed in the underground hip-hop scene, but this in itself is quite misleading as ‘20,000 Leagues…’ could be flavoursome to a more commercial audience.

Featuring such artists as Planet Asia, Encore, Saafir, Flii and Zion I, this album, in part, adopts the philosophy of fourth generation innovators, like Large Professor, Premier, Diamond D et al: obscure breaks, clean production values that don’t compete with the rapper, but complement them, mellow beats, an east coast vibe, and creative mixing.

Surprising, since this album comes from the Bay Area. It’s also one of the few albums that, taken out of the context of a club or a jeep, plays well in the solitude of your house. Standout tracks include Encore’s ‘Unpredictable’, Rasco’s ‘Gunz Still Hot’ and Roo feat. Richness’ ‘What We Do It For’, although there’s no fillers on this set. The themes of the tracks are pretty limited, but this doesn’t take away from the quality of the rhyming and, of course, the phat-ass beats. It doesn’t go leftfield, is underground and on an independent label, so don’t expect to see any of these artists popping up on CD:UK. But few hip-hop albums will top it this year.

Derek A Bardowell