Letters First, Vol. 2 (Wilshire District/AWR)

DJ Ice 

Letters First, Vol. 2 (Wilshire District/AWR)

Formerly affiliated with Kansas City's Flavor Pak 'zine, DJ Ice has been roaming the Wilshire District of Los Angeles since 1988, but he hasn't forgotten his roots. Featuring tracks by some of KC's hip-hop stalwarts, Ice's Letters First, vol. 2 mix just took the DJ and his Seventh Letter crew on tour to Tokyo and Taipei. It's the songs from underground titans such as Dilated Peoples, Aloe Blacc and KRS One that have drawn more than 1,500 Letters First downloads. But tracks from Kansas Citians Joc Max, Tommy Lift and Miles Bonny don't go unnoticed, either. The all-freestyle "Gift of Gab" by J Lee (of KC rap group Heet Mob) juts out for its impromptu lyrical vividness among 27 otherwise airtight tracks. It's a noble aspiration on Ice's part, setting KC hip-hop on the same stage as the bigger market's best — and who would've thought that it would actually work? We know it's bigger than the block, but Letters First proves that our local rappers and beatmakers can hang with the field.

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