SoundsGood: Biscuits & Gravy
Biscuits & Gravy gets our vote for most aptly titled album this year. A perfect combination of velvety beats and savory lyrics, the sophomore release from SoundsGood is as satisfying as its title suggests. Miles Bonny and Joe Good have really stepped it up since their dorm-room beginnings in Lawrence, adding substance to both the production and the lyrical content without watering down the original spirit that made them one of the area's most competent party-starting acts.
ID & Sleeper: Displacement
Archetype: Bleed for Them
Isaac "ID" Diehl graced two of the year's most impressive albums, but the MC can't take all of the credit. DJ Sleeper's dark, futuristic production provided the perfect backdrop for his razor-sharp flows. Displacement, ID and Sleeper's hypnotic debut collaboration, kept our heads nodding, and Archetype's Bleed for Them took care of the lower extremities. Archetype co-founder Jeremy "Nezbeat" Nesbitt laid down a candy-store assortment of funk, soul and disco beats for the duo's second release, giving ID an opportunity to prove himself as one of the scene's most verbally dexterous wordsmiths.
Anti-Crew: The Progressive Movement: A Step Forward
Political unrest ran rampant in 2005, giving Anti-Crew plenty to work with on its debut, The Progressive Movement: A Step Forward. And while MC FlareThaRebel and DJ Eternal (who also raps) do take their obligatory shots at the powers that be on tracks such as "Anti-Republican" and "Against the Tide," they manage to keep things fresh with a fair-and-balanced selection of razor-sharp flows, bass-heavy beats and flawless production. Having a sense of humor doesn't hurt, either.
DJ P: Suck My Mixx
No one can summon guilty pleasures like DJ P, which is why the Las Vegas MGM Grand Casino recently put him to work at three of its clubs. On Suck My Mixx, he gave us an '80s spin on mainstream hip-hop, teaming up the likes of Lil Jon with the Thompson Twins and 50 Cent with AC/DC. Also this year came DJ P's Assholez and Elbowz, a gangsta-rap marathon recalling a time when tweeters gathered dust and suburban white kids thought Compton was the next Disneyland.
Xta-C: Tha Warning
Xta-C (aka Mr. "So Heavy") took the concept of the hidden track to another level with Tha Warning. The latter half of the album is untitled bonus material, but by no means does it belong on the cutting-room floor. Well, maybe we could have done without the lengthy shout-outs, but from the jump, Xta-C displays the confidence of a streetwise rapper who is true to his image. Tha Warning brims with crunked-out beats and authentic gangster grit.