Tech N9ne doesn't need riffs to exude rock energy. His rapid-fire flows hammer like Slayer's drumbeats, and his massive chorus-driven tracks feel more like arena anthems than club fare. His producers craft cuts that bang and thump for the hardcore crowd, his in-house talent adds gritty vocal hooks, and Tech turns his verses into savage displays of raw power. Last year's AngHellic
should have been an instant classic, but it was lost in record-label purgatory. (It's not yet damned; Tech plans to re-release that album with new tracks.) His latest opus, Absolute Power
, raises the bar for hip-hop in Kansas City -- and nationwide -- once again. The cream of a bumper crop of local releases also includes Namelessnumberheadman's amazingly elegant When We Leave ...
; Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys' Your Favorite Fool
, on which Hobart adds depth and subtlety to his laments without sacrificing strength; the Anniversary's regal pop flashback Your Majesty
; the Casket Lottery's devastating dying gasp Survival Is for Cowards
, and the Gadjits' long-anticipated garage stomper Today Is My Day