Dopegame/Flomasters Inc. Volume 1

Turf rap is the aural equivalent of a contemporary Donald Goines novel: Its graphic tales of black gangsterism and inner-city survival remain most appreciated by underground, hardcore audiences, even as the genre's commercially cloned, watered-down cousins -- thugged-out R&B and Southern crunk -- are injected into the mainstream like growth hormones into domestic beef. This is the real thing, and no other art form in America today is as visceral, as deadly, or as tragic.

The turf rap compilation remains a Bay Area delicacy, a dish best served cold, and preferably listened to on a car audio system with a substantial subwoofer. East Oakland's latest foray into the genre, Dopegame, harnesses the unexplainable charisma of Keak da Sneak to the equally lethal lyrics of Jacka, Husulah, Verstyle, and the Team. With guest appearances by Bay OGs E-40 and Richie Rich, clientele from the East (Cormega) and the South (Bone Crusha), and production by Rick Rock, Tone Capone, and Rob Low, it's the perfect soundtrack for a sideshow or high-speed chase -- and if Oakland needed another street anthem, "Town Buziness" will surely suffice. On the other hand, Flomasters Inc. Volume One (featuring Certified Ryders, Mr Midas, and J-Official), switches off between well-executed (if unoriginal) turf rap, crunk club jams, sexy smoothness, and even social commentary -- one of the best songs is a remake of KRS-One's "Material Love." Both albums are designed for ballas to get their swerve on, but there's no reason you can't do the same.


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