Alive and Well (Urbnet)
By Hook or by Crook (Urbnet)
Besides the Rascalz and Swollen Members, there’s never been another B.C. rap crew to achieve the longevity and commercial success of Sweatshop Union, which this summer marks its 10-year anniversary. The seven-man unit formed in 2000 as an amalgam of various group and solo projects brought together under the supervision of the rapper, producer, and overall sonic architect Metty the Dert Merchant. The beatmaker-MC marks a decade in the game with albums by his two side projects: Dirty Circus finds him hooking up with fellow Unionist Mos Eisley for a meditation on growing old in the rap game, while the Trillionaire$ features Metty and Van City veteran Evil satirizing capitalist excess.
These records mark the opposing poles of the Sweatshop sound; Dirty Circus’s Alive and Well is introspective and gently humorous, with Mos and Metty positing themselves as two of the last men standing in the local scene and admonishing YouTube rappers to pay their dues and respect their elders. The Trillionaire$’ record, By Hook or by Crook, sets modern-day consumerism in its sights; the rap duo (and guests including Moka Only and Josh Martinez) rides the right side of the line dividing social commentary from preachiness. Competently rapped and lovingly produced, there’s nothing new here to change the minds of haters who’ve been selling Sweatshop short for a decade now. That’s their loss.