Various Artists 

The Sky is the Limit

To be honest, I've never been big on hip-hop that's heavy on bragging, smack talking or discussing money and partying. I usually gravitate toward artists like Busdriver or El-P, rappers who blaze their own trail by spitting tangled rhymes on a host of heady topics.

That said, the newest comp from Missoula's Wapikiya Records borrows a bit from braggadocio-styled rap, but expands its reach into lyrical themes beyond the genre's norm. It's a refreshing change from their previous release, especially on cuts like "Yes We Can" and "No More Poverty," both of which weave themes of societal unity and social justice with club-friendly beats. The label also veers into love on "Hate to See You Away" and set their sights on ambition with "Sweet Dreams."

Wapikiya's roster of MCs, including Frodie, Overtime, Pallas and others, splits rapping styles between straight rhymes to double-time Bone Thugs and Harmony-esque flows. It's not extensively complex, but it works in this context.

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As for their beats, most are manicured for commercial radio, which is fine. But they could certainly use some creative tweaking in the studio to make 'em sound distinguishable from what's already out there.

The Sky is the Limit shows progress, which is as much as I could expect from this local crew.

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