Jake One

Almost a quarter of the way through this record we, the listener, are encouraged to "steal money from your grandmother's brazier...or take it from the whore on the corner... and buy this fuckin record." While this site by no means condones such behavior a prompt acquisition of Jake One's debut is strongly advised.

Seatle's Jacob Dutton, aka Jake One, has contributed production to some of the most well known artists in hip hop today and also to some of the lesser. He may not be a household name like some of his contemporaries but the respect he commands from those in the know is such that an album as expansive and diverse as White Van Music can flow so coherently while featuring MCs as varied as it does. What makes White Van Music so enjoyable and so unique is that it pitches underground heroes like MF Doom alongside tried and tested chart-topping heavyweights like Busta Rhymes. Having done tracks for G-Unit's debut Beg For Mercy he is accustomed to laying down dark atmospherics for a more hardcore style so to have that flow alongside rappers like De La Soul's Posdnous is something rarely heard.

But this isn't just your regular who's who of hip hop comp. He may dazzle us with the guest list but when Jake One pairs people up on the same track it becomes something quite special. The earliest of these collaborations is The Truth, featuring the gritty delivery of Freeway which is contrasted perfectly by the free flow of Brother Ali. Both rappers represent different ends of the spectrum but their partnership is inspired. More suited is the duo of Posdnous and Atmosphere's Slug. As they weave in and out over the expertly crafted shuffle/clap beat their similarities become obvious. This can also be said for White Van which features the slow, intense styles of Alchemist, Evidence and a brief appearance by Prodigy. This audio curation is only possible if the brains behind it has a deep understanding of the artists he is working with and Jake One certainly does.

There is no overriding style that ties every song together here and on paper it shouldn't really be this good. An album as stylistically diverse as this isn't going to please everyone all the time and does feature some rappers that don't necessarily float my boat. Keak da Sneak provides a laborious cut on Soil Raps and Little Brother's moment on Bless The Child is less than inspiring with the beat severely outstaying its welcome. However these moments of bordom are few and far between, the rest is pretty solid. Besides the aforementioned collaborations the other highlights are I'm Coming, the album opener featuring Nottz and Black Milk, an artist who, for me, is going from strength to strength, the menacing Dead Wrong featuring Young Buck and both the MF Doom cuts. Trap Door and Get 'Er Done really show this producers versatility and his nack for matching the right beat to the artist. Doom's hulking delivery skulks over a suitably shuffling beat that might plod along as you'd expect but the glimmers of jazz high-hat rhythm provide the dense warmth that is needed to support the weight of the voice. So instead of setting your iPod to shuffle you may as well go see that whore with the necessary cash you need to buy this album and the job's done.