Encore: It’s Time (Ode to Breakin’ Atoms)
Mr. Lif: Trouble Shooting
Both from D-Tension: Contacts + Contracts (Brick, 2002)

This is neither old nor new exactly but either way, D-Tension’s heavily snoozed-upon album from 2002 has two of my favorite hip-hop jawns from that year. “It’s Time (Ode to Breakin’ Atoms)” was on my Top 10 for that year, and was probably the #1 independent song, with a bullet while “Trouble Shooting” is one of my all-time favorite Mr. Lif tracks (which says a lot considering how much of his material I enjoy). It’s just an added bonus that they both happen to be on the same album.

Encore’s “It’s Time” flaunts this amazing track – someone might describe it Kanye-esque with its sped-up vocals but that swinging sample is hyper than what Kanye typically hooks up. This song is actually mid-tempo but it feels like its jamming much faster because there’s so much energy behind the beat. Encore drops that “gritty finesse,” as good an oxymoron as any, and the hook is pure gold. With “Trouble Shooting,” the blues guitar lick that powers the song sticks to ears immediately while the incoming bassline rolls heavier than 16 wheelers. Love Lif’s narrative about dumb ass MCs messing up the show (who hasn’t seen that shit go down?)