Recently Will “Agra” Smith complained about the one-dimensionality of rap these days — about how hip-hop’s the main image of the African-American community that the world sees and shouldn’t be filled with the pimps, drugs, and hos that are selling in the suburbs. While this may be truer than we’d like to admit, that is commercial rap, and definitely not the entire picture. If Big Willie would take Talib Kweli’s advice and look underground, he would see the battlefield mined with the talents of Company Flow, Blackalicious, Micranots, and their ilk. These groups, and other acts like them, have a lot to say and great beats to pound. Maybe Will Smith just doesn’t understand.
Of course, compilations like Superrappin may help him see the light. This two-CD set is what hip-hop is all about: earth-shattering beats to the great rhymes. Biz Markie and Pete Rock (with Grand Agent) represent the old guard of rap’s creative heyday. And if you know the rest of the talent on these discs, you’re so far underground, you’re spitting magma. But there are names to definitely look out for here: Obscure Disorder, 5 Deez, Lone Catalysts, J-Live, Mr. Lif, Maspyke, Loer Velocity, Declaime… you get the idea. These two discs are essential for any hip-hop head’s collection and will force any disparaging actor to realize what hip-hop is really about.