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Various Artists 

The Necker Cube Volume One (MySpace.com/LaRockIncRecords)

From Ohio to Cali, Cleveland rapper Johnny La Rock (aka Eddie Fleisher, a Scene freelance writer) brings together some of his favorite rhymers for The Necker Cube Volume One. Pittsburgh sample fiend Amerikkkan Hostage cuts up warped grooves and stitches them back together for the woozy "G.O.P. Kills Me," while La Rock and Mush Mouth get electrofunktastic on "Wizards 'N Shit." Dispatching a bouncing xylophone run and flat horns, Cleveland laptop soldier RMA might have created the year's happiest rap instrumental with "Cartoon Cartoon Friday."

The biggest standout is Kent's Chrismick, who opens the disc with a bubbling, bongo-backed solo track, "Mac Rebbenack," and plays live instruments for "Gift Rap" from Youngstown's MC Homeless. Behind Homeless' rapid yet lovelorn lyrics, the triple-threat plays a somber piano loop, then softens it with an uplifting sax solo. Cleveland punkers Deaf by Arms crash the party with the drunken acoustic sing-along "Who Needs California When You've Got Ohio?" A comp like this makes it a serious question.

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