Consumer Guide Album
Sway & King Tech: This or That [Interscope, 1999]
All year I've been wasting good review time listening to the commercially unavailable rap mixtapes Cornerstone Promotion mails out. Hopping hiply among foreshortened current and prospective hits, exclusive freestyles, and unclassifiable obscurities, they convey as no single-artist album can the image of an inexhaustible culture comprising an infinity of adjustable musical parts. Sway and Tech, whose Wake Up Show is said to reach 11.5 million listeners on 17 stations, accomplish something similar on the first major-label rap mix record unimpinged by discernible copyright hassles. Rather than embracing a whole culture, though, they merely establish the underground's right to claim old-school, as when snippets of "I Know You Got Soul," "Looking at the Front Door," and "They Reminisce Over You" lead from the Jurassic 5 to Kool Keith and improve both. Other highlights: "The Anthem" from KRS-One to Xzibit, respect for Canibus, and Eminem's little-boy act.