[HIP-HOP] Like any good hip-hop label/production company compilation, there's a great sense of cohesion to this collection of tracks centered on the Trust No One collective. The production throughout has a warm soulfulness to it that leans heavily on the spirit of '70s R&B and funk: the Zapp & Roger-style talk box vocals on OverFlow's "Maybe The One"; a well-used sample of the Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly Wow" that anchors the Risky Star track "Wonder"; and an overall emphasis on live instrumentation in place of programmed beats.
That may feel like a throwback, considering the forward momentum of so much current hip-hop, but as the national scene finally circles back around to the g-funk productions of Dr. Dre and the mischievous spirit of vintage Outkast, it's actually ahead of the curve. The playfulness of those influences prevails on so much of this collection. Blak Neon's "Real World," with its sung and scatted chorus, would feel comfortable tucked into Big Boi's Speakerboxxx, and Al-One's defiant "Nerf" has the smoke-induced paranoia of a Chronic outtake.
Another unifying factor to these tracks is a relentlessly positive lyrical outlook. Risky Star and KB of Blak Neon opine about the "bullshit in the world today," but you can hear the smile in their voices as they sing. Like the good Portlanders they are, everyone here seems more concerned with snagging their next sack of weed, finding a girl or, as David does on his track "Amsterdam," snapping up both at once. Those notions may run counter to the name of this production company, but they wouldn't be part of the Rose City music world without a little bit of cognitive dissonance. Embrace the contradiction and enjoy the hell out of this disc.
SEE IT: Risky Star, Devin Donovan and Lost One play Peter's Room, 8 NW 6th Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 28. 8 pm. $5. All ages.