Natural Selection

Artist: Nature Sounds Presents...Title: Natural SelectionRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman

Brooklyn’s Nature Sounds is not your typical independent label. Unlike most indies that focus on harvesting up-and-coming talent, this still relatively new imprint has made a name for itself by putting out records by some of the New York’s top veteran MCs (and a few underappreciated beat makers as well). On Nature Sounds Presents Natural Selection (Nature Sounds), the roster of featured talent is not huge, but when you have a DOOM/Ghostface track, the Boot Camp Click and Tragedy in effect, it’s hard to complain.

Aside from the draw that arises purely from the names featured, it’s the unexpected collaborations and the end results that make this compilation so solid. One of the most pleasant surprises, “No, No, No,” sees Boston’s DJ Fakts One of The Perceptionists connect with BK’s Buckshot and the Boot Camp Click. Fakts’ extra bouncy drum and horn-driven beat brings an energy out of the BCC not seen in some time. And on the magnetic posse cut “ The Renaissance 2.0”, Hell Razah, Black Market Militia and R.A. The Rugged Man take us back into the best times in Hip-Hop history, embodying defining moments and people like “Grand Wizard Theodore when he invented scratching.” Rarely has a posse cut been this focused.

Being that Nature Sounds is a primarily New York-centered label, the two tracks from the L.A.-area’s Strong Arm Steady are the only real misfits on the compilation. Not taking anything away from Strong Arm, but their clunky g-funk (on “Gold Chain Music” specifically) just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the East Coasters featured. Ironically enough, one of the strongest tracks, DOOM and Ghostface’s “Angeles,” is a riveting crime story set in L.A. of all places.

All in all, Natural Selection accomplishes exactly what it was intended to: get heads ready for their ridiculously impressive lineup of forthcoming albums in 2006 from DOOM/Ghostface, Pete Rock, Masta Killa and more. If all goes as planned, Nature Sounds may soon become one of New York’s premier Hip-Hop imprints.