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Epidemic Massive Rated E

These mindful LA wordsmiths rap about the plight of the underground MC-lack of funds, crap competition on the radio, etc.-with noble overtones. Their earthy beats and rhymes are delivered skillfully and with satisfying touches, like the acoustic guitar lick sampled on "Dedicated," vibes on "Classic," and the flute anxiously scratched up on "In This Life." The themes remain a bit predictable, and the Massive ones don't quite spark the same originality as some of their underground brethren. Still, "Rated E" is a solid debut head-nodder from a talented crew. File next to J5.

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