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Homegrown Vol 2, SILENTSOUNDZ
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If albums from Kanye and Common indicate a move away from criminal amorality in American hip-hop, this latest mixtape compilation from the most reliable chronicler of British rap suggests that issues of influence and responsibility are being addressed here too. There's still much boasting, dissing and leering, though couched in more imaginative metaphors than usual - Blak Twang dismisses a rival as "lookin' like a cross between Luke Chadwick and Dwight Yorke", while Cormega and Vybz Cartel use references to the Taliban and Bobby Brown's treatment of Whitney Houston to convey how "Dangerous" they are. But what's impressive is the political consciousness evident in most of the 23 tracks - either globally, in linking African famine with Anglo-US economic activity in Million Dan, Dynamite MC and MCD's "Military Riddim", or locally, in the critiques of hip-hop mores in Future Cut & Fallacy's "We Love Them Hoes" and Life's "Bad Minds". Lowkey's "Playing with Fire" is a devastating analysis of a warped value-system whose leisure-wear obsession tacitly supports "modern-day slavery" in foreign sweat-shops, and which promotes death culture. Homegrown Vol 2 suggests that the future of UK hip-hop is safer than previously imagined.