Vancouver's Swollen Members are at the forefront of hip-hop's new world order and anyone who doubts it need only consult Monsters in the Closet
. Though an odds-and-sods collection with a few new songs, Monsters
still sports the kind of guest list worthy of a velvet rope and shifty guys with thick necks. Nelly Furtado, Saukrates, Moka Only, DJ Vadim and, via sample, Sarah McLachlan(!) join Prevail and Mad Child as the pair mash up inky, insistent beats with conscious rhymes and an after-dark menace that seems to seep into the skin. Some moments here are staggering--Prevail's throwdown in "Rockapella" for instance, finds the MC grocery-listing contemporary artists from Crash Test Dummies to Rage Against the Machine, Nice Inch Nails, Grapes of Wrath, 10,000 Maniacs, and Cowboy Junkies among dozens of others, improbably interconnecting their names to make a coherent statement. Furtado sounds positively heavyweight on "Breath" backed by the Members crew at full tilt, while the vaguely cartoonish and obscenely catchy "Bring It Home" is already a classic on par with Len's "Steal My Sunshine," only waaay funkier. --Kim Hughes
2002 album from Swollen Members is set to take them to an even higher level. The album includes banging new singles & remixes taking the raw heavy substance of Balance (1999) and combining it with the polished maturity of Bad Dreams (2001). Battleaxe Records.