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Commentary; Hip-Hop Below the Mainstream; Music * Artists such as Mystic and Cannibal Ox are thriving in the underground, where the rules demand originality and pushing boundaries.
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Kot, Greg
Date: Sep 19, 2001
Start Page: F.6
Section: Calendar; Entertainment Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

In addition, Cannibal Ox is currently on a major national tour that will showcase the rosters of two of the nation's most respected underground hip-hop labels, Def Jux from New York and Rhyme Sayers in Minneapolis, and adventurous rappers such as Atmosphere, Eyedea & Abilities, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif and El-P. The tour comes to Spaceland in Silver Lake tonight and the Knitting Factory Hollywood on Saturday afternoon.

"The industry is so blatantly about money that it has become totally exploitative," says Mystic, a 27-year-old poet and thespian who spent several years working with funky rap jesters Digital Underground before branching off into a solo career. "There used to be rules, per se, in hip-hop, and I don't know that they exist anymore in the mainstream. But they exist in the underground, and they demand originality, bringing new things to the table, pushing the boundaries."

The album more than lives up to that premise, a latticework of disorienting sound vistas and lopsided beats carved out by one of the masters of the hip-hop underground, former Company Flow mastermind El-P, who along with the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA has done more than any other producer to push the musical vocabulary of hip-hop forward in the last five years. Over this bleak yet intriguing backdrop, Vast and Vordul Megilah trade rhymes in which their childhoods in Harlem become fuel for stories full of bedlam, comedy, pathos and bravado.

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