Rawkus Presents The Cleaner (mix CD, free with the May 2000 issue of Hip Hop Connection magazine, out now priced £2.99)

A few examples of the best recent outputs of Rawkus acts, mixed by arguably Britain’s greatest hip hop deejays, Tony Vegas and Prime Cuts of the Scratch Perverts.

Initially I found this CD slightly disappointing, expecting something of the standard I’d heard from Rawkus’s “Soundbombing” mix series. Common and Sadat X’s “1-9-9-9” (mp3) is a predictable highlight, seeing as it’s lifted directly from Soundbombing II, but there are other indicators of a bright future.

Mad Skillz’s excellent “Ghost Writer” consists of the emcee claiming to have written rhymes for almost all his more successful contemporaries. “I’ll probably make more money off your album than you.” The names of the guilty parties who allegedly pass his rhymes off as their own have been “bleeped” out in a fashion which would undoubtedly make the Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists’ list of best edited versions if only it was an edit rather than the rapper’s own censorship; a snatch of James Brown here, a snippet of Fab 5 Freddy’s “Change Le Beat” there… Mad Skillz threatens “Y’all keep fuckin around, I’ll put this back out with your names in it!” Unfortunately, Mr. Solinger looks to be right again: the track’s let down by an extremely dull backing track; using a one-bar loop for over four minutes doesn’t always make for the most interesting listening.

The Scratch Perverts’ mixing lifts the CD above the sum of its parts and it certainly implies promising output from Rawkus over coming months but again we’re left bemoaning the tired production which is evident on all but a few of the tracks.