More Than Music, Vol. 1

Artist: Diplomats & Duke Da God Present...Title: More Than Music, Vol. 1Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill "Low-Key" Heinzelman

With their trendsetting styles, unique slang and unmatched street appeal, the Diplomats have created a movement that keeps growing by the day. Not since the heyday of the Wu-Tang Clan has a collection of MCs commanded such a fanatical backing. And just like the Wu, each member of Dipset brings their own distinctive flair to the group, which is never more evident than on their new compilation More Than Music Vol. 1 (Diplomats/Koch Records). Headed by Diplomat Records A&R Duke Da God, the album rekindles the chemistry of the crew last seen on Diplomatic Immunity. As always, Dipset remains smothered in tremendous beats, but its More Than Music's direction and artist placement that makes it the album we all hoped for after the disappointing Diplomatic Immunity 2.

While DI2 was sloppily put together, Duke Da God wisely focuses this album on Dipset's strongest members. The Don Killa Cam provides two gems with the Green Lantern produced "Somebody's Gotta Die Tonight" and "Get Down" featuring Juelz Santana. Capo Jim Jones lets everybody know what time it is on the street tales of "What Is This." Juelz Santana continues his streak of impressive work with one of his finest efforts yet on "No Days Off." Over Duke Da God's soulful loop, Juelz provides vivid block tales that display his lyrical growth.

Even though the Dipset's core members provide a solid foundation on More Than Music Vol. 1, the crew's future stars shine the brightest. The collaborations between J.R. Writer, Hell Rell and 40 Cal on "The Best Out" and "The Pit" highlight the lyrical talent and grit of the trio. J.R. and 40 Cal steal the show, as they rip apart each track with their catchy punch lines. On the solo tip, the Heatmakerz lace Hell Rell with a hard as rock beat for "Back In The Building," while J.R. provides an uplifting message on the Scram Jones produced "If Only You Believe."

With only a few throwaway tracks, namely "So Gangsta" by the irritating Jha Jha and 40 Cal's "Open Your Eyez," More Than Music Vol. 1 is chockfull of powerful music that should help the movement grow even further. And with Hell Rell, 40 Cal and J.R. Writer holding it down for the future, Dipset is primed to keep the streets of New York buzzing for a long time.