Appendix Out
Nick Cave
For Stars
The Green & Yellow TV
Kings of Convenience
Mass Producers
Red House Painters
Sorry About Dresden
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Cross Addicted

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Unless you were drawn to the gangsta-rap phenomenon back in the early '90s or you grew up in the upper-Midwest, The Dayton Family probably doesn't mean a lot to you. That's too bad, as the rhyme-spree-riddled Dayton Family pumped out some memorable anthems that any prison-ridden fan could appreciate. Taking these roots in stride, Dayton member Shoestring dishes out some hardcore rhymes that'll appease both hardcore Dayton Family followers and anyone looking for a quick rap fix that doesn’t go flaccid after a few tracks.

Shoestring cuts the shit and sends out his own ass-kickin' rhyme frenzy on such tough numbers as "Chevy Ride By", the straight-to-the-point "Mother Fuck the Cops" and the crushing "I'm Still a Killa" -- tracks that can do hand to hand combat with the roughest of the Wu-Tangers. Shoestring’s deep, husky voice is reminiscent of his Texas counterpart, Scarface, as he calmly yet sternly unleashes rhyme after rhyme.

But before you decide that Shoestring is just another rough and ready gangsta rapper taking pot-shots at the same old topics, check out the funky number "Party". Play this track on the radio and its catchy keyboards will be blasting from everyone's car stereo in no time flat. Likewise, Shoestring shows off his wit and one helluva memorable chorus on the Flint narrative "Wrecking Mics and Pianos." While Shoestring calls upon his musical past, he keeps Cross Addicted from becoming a one-dimensional gangsta album by delving into an occasional funky rhythm and some gritty, ass-shaking beats. As he manhandles the mic, Shoestring does an all-star job of keeping pace with contemporary beats and styles, without sounding derivative or the least bit washed up.

It's tough tracking down a rap album that doesn't relegate itself to a single style. Cross Addicted has the rare ability to take ideas from multiple rap sub-genres, creating a curiously appetizing CD that boils the testosterone while it provokes the mind. Sure, I'm just some suburban white kid ranting about hardcore rap like the guy in Office Space, but I think I can recognize skill when I hear it. Shoestring not only impresses on first listen, but he'll be a repeat performer in your stereo as time passes.

-- Andrew Magilow
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