Mayday! (Southbeat Records)

The two-man band of Plex Luthor and MC Bernbiz have made Mayday!'s self-titled debut one of this year's pleasant surprises. Mayday! is vivid and colorful, with sounds that range from the hard organ crush of "Watchin' Me" to the echoing piano keys on "The Customer Is Always Right." Meanwhile, Bernbiz's rhymes are tight and concise, as on "Angles," where he lays out his philosophy: "Cats have gotten far, but not that far, dog/I see it everyday -- ass, money, and stardom/But everybody's gotta beg, borrow, and rob/So I don't owe nobody shit, and I ain't paying for beats." In spite of the publicity that Cee-Lo's chorus on "Groundhog Day" lent them, Mayday!'s success is due to Luthor and Bernbiz alone.

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