Record Review 

Judging from the success of acts like El-P, Anti-Pop Consortium and Blackalicious (at least on college radio), hip-hop isn't dead. The right people are still paying attention to those in-the-know artists seeking to give the genre a lift. Now it's time for everybody else to get on board. This may explain why the DJ-driven Astralwerks label, under the supervision of hip-hop journalist Joseph Patel, has decided to drop this sampler for those weary souls who've avoided buying the new Nelly album like everybody else.

As the title implies, Constant Elevation is a collection of tunes from underground performers doing their damnedest to keep hip-hop's pulse going. Casual listeners may find the collection difficult to swallow as a hip-hop primer since it's mostly a compilation of instrumental numbers. The tracks by Anti-Pop Consortium and Freestyle Fellowship are the only ones with lyrical accompaniment -- and they drop enough deliciously surreal verses to make you wonder if they're paying tribute to Kool Keith.

Albums like this prove that all hope is not lost for hip-hop. Just clap your hands real hard and believe.


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