The latest release from the Def Jux camp is a compilation of b-sides and rare tracks that spans the last six years of the labels' existence. While originally released exclusively for members of their fan club, this compilation is now being made available for wider release in the UK and Europe.
Reading the aforementioned in the press release made me suspicious. Is this a treat for European fans or are the American fans simply being spared a re-heated plate of Def Jux leftovers? Fortunately this compilation contains a large body of impressive work.
Def Jux junkies will probably be familiar with the bulk of the material on the disc. Anyone who paid attention to Cannibal Ox after they dropped their 2001 release "The Cold Vein" will undoubtedly have copped their follow up EP that included the RJD2 remix of "The F-Word" as well as the previously unreleased "Metal Gear", which are both featured on this compilation. The real interest, however, comes from the tracks that may have slipped past you. Masai Bey (where you be at?) rips through "The Beginning" with help from Vast Aire and BMS. The El-P produced beat is an aggressive and simple track that exemplifies the early Jukie sound, straight up raw Hip Hop music.
While the darlings of the Jux camp are well represented on the disc (El-P, Aesop Rock, RJD2) it's the criminally underrated C-Rayz Walz that delivers the best song on the album. "Rain Forever", from his more or less ignored "We Live – The Black Samurai" EP, is a grand and thundering masterpiece of a song.
Other highlights include the RJD2 gem "De L'Alouette", the posse cut "The Final Frontier (remix)" as well as the El-P remix of "Fondle 'Em Fossils" from the relatively obscure compilation of the same name. The track features verses from Breeze, Unique, Godfather Don, J-Treds and MF Doom and as banging as the beat is it's a little hard to understand the vocals given that they are considerably more quiet than the music.
Despite some minor set backs and a couple of tracks that don't hit as hard as they could, Bucket of B-Sides is overall a highly successful offering. 2005 was a fine year for our friends at Definitive Jux and this collection of earlier work serves as a reminder that they have consistently put out music of a very high caliber. Hopefully they will continue to do so.