So for a short time there, it seemed like this was going to be a yearly event, a sort of State-of-the-Union album from one of underground hip hop’s hottest labels. Well, after the third one, I guess they got distracted, ‘cause we hadn’t heard one in quite a few years. The most important thing about the DJP series is that it provided a place to collect good singles that didn’t have a home on an album but needed an audience. And that, above everything else, is why I’m happy to welcome the series back. Lets see what we get here:

The album opens with a track from The Weatherman (the Definitve Jux supergroup whose album is becoming the Chinese Democracy of underground hip hop), which is decent, not a bad way to start off the album. From there, we get a cool synth-dance track from the late Camu Tao, which is pretty enjoyable. Up next comes the secret weapon of this comp, “Look Alive,” by Despot. I don’t know where they’ve been hiding him, or if this is going to be some sort of one hit wonder situation, but this track has quickly become my Jam of Fall 2009. I can’t stop driving around cranking this song. The production is tight, and the hook is great. After that we get a track from Cage that reminds us of what made Hell’s Winter so intriguing and is quite pleasant for those of us that were disappointed by Depart From Me. The first real hiccup of the compilation comes from Yak Ballz, who gives us a Beauty Bar dance track with no real substance and a hook I’m desperate to get out of my head. Fortunately, we get right back into things with Mr. Lif, who gives us something different with some electro-synth production from up-and-coming Seattle-based producer Budo that seems to work despite my predilection to not care for that style of music. The comp keeps going strong with a track from Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz that brings us back to the sound that attracted most of us to Jux in the first place. Central Services follows that up with some great El-P production that sees him almost approach soul music (in his own way). Rob Sonic then delivers another solid track on what’s shaping up to be a solid comp. Another disappointing Yak Ballz track makes me wonder if I just don’t like him as an artist. Maybe? The Chin Chin track threw me for a loop, considering that it sounds much darker and experimental than the group that gave us The Flashing, The Fancing, but it keeps growing on me. Finally, El-P closes everything out and reminds us why he is king of the miniature empire he’s built - it’s dark, it’s challenging, it’s urgent, it slams.

Overall, this is as good as you’d expect from a label compilation, especially one from a label that we hadn’t necessarily heard a lot from lately. It’s nice to know that they still got it.