...if you're searching for proper, pounding, gimmick-free underground New York hip-hop, [B]DITC[/B] are rolling in it.

We should have an entirely tragic record on our hands here. After all, two of Bronx/Harlem/Brooklyn-based hip-hop squad DITC‘s guest MCs have died since the making of this album: [a]Big L[/a], who was murdered, and Big Punisher, who suffered a heart attack.

And yet what ‘DITC’ (it stands for Diggin’ In The Crates, in honour of their knack for finding rare party tunes in record stores) mainly speaks of is hip-hop as a dauntless, life-enhancing force, with key members Fat Joe, Diamond, OC, Show, Buckwild, AG and Lord Finesse whipping up a classic East Coast storm. Classic indeed, seeing that ‘DITC’ looks back to Sugarhill label days more than it peruses modern-day predilections for Timbaland rhythms, pop samples and R&B-inflections. It’s hip-hop served neat, imbued with invincible and seemingly effortless energy amid the hard-bitten grooves of ‘Get Yours’, ‘Weekend Nights’ and the utterly funky ‘Day One’.

Despite sporadic rhymes about Cristal, Mokt and Lexus motors, it’s hard to picture this lot commissioning an epic Hype Williams video and taking any of these tunes chartwards. DITC make too much reference to coke dealing, runs-ins with the cops and other gritty activities to truly profit in glamour-obsessed Rapland. But if you’re searching for proper, pounding, gimmick-free underground New York hip-hop, DITC are rolling in it.

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