“Gangsta Coat” by Anti-Crew, from Dat’s Wassup!
Hip-hop artists often use the informal mix-tape format to demonstrate different sides of their personalities, and Anti-Crew gets goofy on Dat’s Wassup without sacrificing its intellect. Flare the Rebel and DJ Eternal pay aggro-rap homage to 24‘s Jack Bauer and parody gangstas over a convincing crunk beat. Even the scattered serious tunes have an upbeat vibe, combining keep-your-head-up messages with horn-drenched soul backdrops. Mix tapes also give true lyricists the chance to ride robust club-jam beats, and Anti-Crew commandeers TI’s “What You Know” (which drives its MCs to faster-than-usual flows) and Mobb Deep’s “Twisted” (dropping science over a Thomas Dolby sample). Finally, dating back to the original posse cut “The Symphony,” mix tapes have encouraged artists to share the spotlight with their regional cohorts. Mac Lethal spits rapid-fire insults during his blistering verse, sparing neither himself nor his fans (dorks at Scribble Jam). Joe Good woos the “Style Girls” (They call me Mr. Fix-it, but I can see that you ain’t broke). And Approach, Brother of Moses and others maintain a consistent skill level while passing the microphone during the epic finale, “KC Shuffle.” Like the early works of De La Soul and Biz Markie, Dat’s Wassup proves it’s possible not only to sustain an endearing, spontaneous-lark feel for an entire album but also to make that record substantive enough to warrant repeated listens.