Dakah Hip-Hop Orchestra Unfinished Symphony

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Dakah lays down the gauntlet for those "producers" who recycle samples, nudge already-hackneyed beats and call the result "hip-hop." The LA-based 60-plus piece orchestra shows the difference live musicians can make on tracks like "Adiago Asiago" (subtitled "Tryin II Sow My Love"), a love song where swelling woodwinds are grounded with unhurried percussion. Another standout is "Invocation of the Duke," where the scratching lets the Latin percussion and string- and horn-laden instrumentation take the foreground. Minor quibble: sometimes the instruments overwhelm the sung and rapped vocals. But overall, Unfinished Symphony is outstanding and hopefully indicative of more to come.