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Music Review: Various Artists – Terminal 3 Presents: The Academy

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Hearkening back to when mixtapes and compilation records were more standard, Terminal 3 Presents: The Academy is a stellar rap album that collects a massive crew and sets them loose over some serious beats and soundscapes.

What we have here is 55 emcees (yep!) rocking the joint for 75 solid minutes. This is the straight goods, no skits (save for an intro track, I suppose) and no gibberish. The whole shebang is executive produced by Kurupt and the beats come original from Terminal 3 Productions’ Marlon Price and JP Beats.

If there’s any trouble with compilations in general, it’s that they lack a distinct thread. That impacts The Academy, too, but there’s enough substance to grind on so the lack of central concept doesn’t matter much. The point, it seems, is to explore the unique blend of young guns sparring alongside veterans. There’s an imposing assembly of independent rappers, major label big dogs, legendary names, and up-and-coming emcees to check out.

After a brief intro track that features Method Man and Redman pretty much hyping the show to come, the hits start coming with “Mashout.” A robust cut that springs high with bare production and a smooth beat, “Mashout” features Canibus, Agallah and Styles P spitting some serious game.

Raekwon gifts the glorious “Samurydas” with his blessing, cruising hard over a smart beat. Kurupt and Kojoe also dig in.

As you can probably tell already, there’s a good mix of the young and old on each track. That’s generally the pattern throughout the album, providing a good way to present new talent to those earlobes who may not have crushed with the likes of Ruste Juxx and Math Hoffa.

“Rich Righteous Teachers” includes the instantly-recognizable Jadakiss along with LA the Darkman, Sav Killz, and M. O. P.’s Billy Danze.

Keith Murray, Sean Price and Big Lou collaborate on one of my favourites, “Paperwork.” With its piano loop and Dre-like beat, the JP Beats-produced track is perfect for windows-down cruising.

Ohio-based underground rapper Copywrite appears twice (“Triple Seize” and “Rock This”), making his presence felt alongside names like Pete Rock, Chino XL, and Planet Asia.

Those thirsting for a little ceaseless, no-bullshit hip hop will dig The Academy. There’s an awful lot of talent on display and the production is more than up to the trials put forth, creating a refined and detailed compilation that is as sprawling as it is superb.

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