Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Run the Road Vol. 2Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman
When the original Run the Road compilation was released earlier this year, it was many Americans' first taste of grime, the British Hip-Hop subgenre marrying ultra-fast, hyper flows with 2-step and jungle beats that owed more to Atari than to classic American Hip-Hop producers. While the music is undeniably unique, futuristic and vastly different from stateside Hip-Hop, it remains to be seen whether that compilation will go down as a cultural landmark or curious byproduct.
With Run the Road Vol. 2 (Vice Recording), the genre looks to expand past its foundation by keeping the basics, but incorporating new elements not found on its rawer predecessor. The flows still approach ludicrous speed; the beats still are heavy enough to soundtrack a stomping. But where every song on RTR had a similar vibe, RTR 2 uses such diverse elements as soulful female hooks (Ghetto & Katie Pearl "Run the Road"), percussion-less acoustic guitar (Plan B "Sick 2 Def") and mid-song beat switches (Lady Sovereign "Little Bit of Shhh") in an attempt to break out of its now-established sound.
Like the early days of American Hip-Hop, some things work better than others, but its the experimentation and realization that you could try anything that keeps RTR2, for the most part, exciting. Between the two, the original still stands as the one to cop for its consistency and introduction to a still-fresh genre. But RTR2 shows a scene not willing to stand still and rest on its initial applause.