Producer Omid, a well-kept secret in Los Angeles's fertile hip-hop scene, has aptly named his album Monolith and features a staggering number of guest MCs (Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, 2Mex, Slug, and Murs) on vocal cuts alongside pure instrumentals.

There's so much to digest here in its giant, dense form that it can be intimidating to absorb all of the smart wordplay and sounds. The subject matter ranges from the personal to the global, from Buck 65's teenage isolation on "Double Header" to Busdriver's rant on the civil liberty-less new order with "Shock and Awe." "Code red/Code orange/Code yellow/Code pink," he shouts urgently, as Omid steers the controls into thrashing punk-rock territory.

Not to be shown up by his guests, Omid makes soaring strings and punchy beats valiantly compete for attention on every song, a stark contrast to the lack of complexity that is standard issue out there. Indian instrumentation has become a cliché du jour among the jiggy set, so it's refreshing to hear him use the same palette for "Sound of the Sitar" and end up sounding like an epic Bollywood composer rather than a cultural thief with a sampler. By choosing a sound already accepted by the masses, he slips in under the radar.

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Tamara Palmer