Various Artists

Run the Road Vol. 2 (Vice Recordings)

"Get set, now everybody rhyme," announces Low Deep at the outset of "Get Set," the jumpoff on Run the Road Vol. 2. "This is the new-age grime/Who's gonna be next with sixteen lines?" Last year's critically acclaimed edition introduced Lady Sovereign and Kano to American listeners. The new volume isn't stocked with as much star power, but it still provokes via highlights like Plan B's "Sick 2 Def," which challenges popular perceptions of the rapper as an amoral figure: "I talk morbid, just to make you feel awkward/Yo, that's a part of life and you just can't ignore it." The track is timely considering that the French government recently blamed its nation's rappers for last year's riots. Grime beats, all Sturm und Drang with punchy keyboards and heavy drums, should be familiar to anyone who's heard a Southern crunk record. The rapid-fire flows and occasionally thick British accents are an acquired but ultimately rewarding taste.

 
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