Soundpieces: Da Antidote (Stones Throw)

Thoughts of P-Funk or Gap Band samples looped over and over, low-riders equipped with hydraulics, hollers of "Wesssyde!" and big plaid button-downs may zoom into your brain at the mention of West Coast rap. The image sold well, but hiding in the shadow of Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre are LA artists unconcerned about looking G'ed-out for MTV. Lootpack members Madlib, Wild Child and DJ Romes avoid glorifying the West Coast thematic staples of sex, crime and drugs. Rather, their lyrical content pertains strictly to the art form of hip-hop. The resulting originality and positivity pervade Soundpieces, and of the album's 24 tracks, not one is wack.

Wild Child is the main emcee of the group. His conversational monotone spits clean and sharp as he delivers lines in one breath, adding emphasis on odd syllables to play with the rhythm of the track that Madlib provides. There are no guest producers on Soundpieces. And after listening to the album again and again, which is most likely what you'll find yourself doing, Madlib's style will come as distinctly as that of Prince Paul or Premier, with well-dressed beats and usually at least three different samples composed to weave in and around each other, enhancing the beat's jumping height. On "Law of Physics," he lays down cinematic, sci-fi-like pipe-organ chords over a more subtle organ loop, then adds a vocal sample that brings to mind a shocked child's yelp. His drums are simple but contain contagious bounce.

Madlib does a minimal amount of rhyming on this album, showcasing his rhyme skills separately as helium-voiced alter ego Quasimoto. DJ Romes does his cuttin' and skratchin' on almost every track and gets props in the lyrics, old-school-style. Members of that exclusive crew known as Likwit — which includes the Alkaholiks, Defari and Dilated Peoples — Lootpack have strong family support, with all three of the aforementioned acts featured on the album. Lootpack actually made their first appearance on the 'Liks' freshman album, 21 and Over, five years ago. Soundpieces may be the group's debut full-length, but these b-boys have paid their dues, and it shows on Soundpieces.

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