Various Artists 

Freshchest Prose Present Jabs and Cuts, Volume One (Freshchest)

An independent label based in New York, Freshchest has been cranking out quality hip-hop and drum-n-bass for about a minute now, recently dropping the impressive collection Jabs and Cuts. All tracks are produced by the Freshchest Prose (aka label-founders JL and Johnny Cock).

The emcees featured here aren't household names yet, but from the sounds of this record, they could be soon. SoCal B-boys Lexicon bring their trademark upbeat, boom-bap steez on two tracks, shining brightest on the organ-fueled gem "Sh*t Right Here." Fast-rising Bronx lyricist Oktober also goes to town (check out his stellar CD, The Zero), spitting ferocious rhymes over melodramatic strings and rolling snares on "Oktoberfest." Xtracts of Slang flows atop deliciously mellow, tinkling keys in "The Theoretical," while other winners come from Writer's Guild, ICON the Mic King, Moist Crackers, and JAQ.

Twenty tracks deep (including a few industry-bashing skits and a sick, scratch-happy instrumental to finish things off), Jabs and Cuts is easily one of the best hip-hop compilations on the shelves today. All of the emcees do their thing nicely, and the production is absurd throughout.

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