Urban Renewal Program
Record label: Chocolate Industries
Format: 3xLP/CD
Release date: late August 2002

Chocolate Industries seems to have drifted away from their glitchy beginnings and are concentrating more on hip-hop. I say it's for the better. Urban Renewal Program really holds it down for future street sounds. This label finds it surprisingly easy to find the innovators and new spitters to take notice of in the game. Check that first single, "Wylin' Out," with Diverse holdin' his own alongside Mos Def, who gets open effortlessly over a beat provided by Prefuse 73. Diverse's own solo cut ("Time") shows an MC that's calm and confident on the mic. Keep a close eye on this brother - he's about to set it off. Then there are those cryptic spitters like Aesop Rock ("Train Buffer") and EL-P ("Deadlight"), both sounding as ill as ever. Boston bad boy Mr. Lif rounds out the Def Jux reppin' on "Wanted" and proves why he's that next level MC. Nice to hear Souls of Mischief on this comp - "Spark" is pure Hieroglyphics hip-hop. Some cool instrumentals on here, too. RJD2 (who just dropped a well-received full-length) brings forth some ol' rock abstraction with block rockin' beats on "True Confessions." DJ Shadow comparisons have been flying like crazy and it's easy to see why, but this cat's a contender. "Haze 3" by While is that ominous instrumental, the kind you'd expect from DJ Krush or the Prunes, but more intergalactic than inner city. There are a couple on Urban Renewal Program that veer away from hip-hop and are pretty damn good, especially Miho Hatori's "Night Light." Sounds like life after Cibo Matto has been good to her. This is an impressive collection of tunes. If this keeps up, Chocolate Industries will earn Ninja Tune status in the next few years.

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