Inordinately well-connected new rapper
Underground hip hop has manoeuvred itself into a dead-end these past few months, chiefly thanks to the ubiquity of the overly-quirky Anticon collective. Chicago’s Diverse, though, offer a timely antidote, with a flow as direct and battle-hardened as that of his mainstream rivals, and the imagination to hire a couple of outstanding producers. Prefuse 73 and RJD2 are best known for their leftfield instrumentals (the former choppy and micro-detailed; the latter rockier), but here they dice beats and juggle guitar loops without ever smothering the performance of Diverse. Cannibal Ox’s Vast Aire and the undervalued Jean Grae (daughter of South African jazz pianist Dollar Brand) donate a few verses, and other producers include Tortoise’s Jeff Parker. Still, this is Diverse’s triumph, a rapper notable for his connections, but never over-shadowed by them.