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Various Artists 

Stack of Tracks (www.stackoftracks.com)

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Hip-hoppers are notorious for dividing into warring factions, but there's nothing typical about Akron's rising underground mic wreckers. At a recent blowout CD release party, four of Ohio's illest -- Poets of Another Breed, Honeypot, Phonologic, and Gator -- unveiled new discs, all of which are represented on this sampler.

Voted Scene's artist of the year in 2000 and top hip-hop act in 2000 and '01, Poets of Another Breed get extra points for their CD titles (see Hip Replacement) as well as their intricate live-band grooves and crossover spitting. Honeypot flexes a muscular narrative flow over an expertly assembled jazz-noir track that could pass for Portishead on "Snuk." Phonologic digs deep and finds spring-loaded loops for "Dime a Dozen" and "Stabsed," while its quirky flow moves from old school to new. Gator plays fast and loose with the language in "Symphony of Chaotic Shit," rapping over a downbeat drum-bass-piano track. His grammar isn't broken -- it's bent to his will. As are we.

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