Nature Sounds is
probably my favorite record label no one knows about. Aside from the DOOM Special Herbs collection, and the last glimpse of non-Ghost “real Wu-tang shit” by way of Masta
Killa
and Mathematics, this
label still has yet to make the Def Jux
or Rhymesayers-sized movement. Last
May, I had the pleasure of discussing Natural
Selection
, the labels first big compilation. And a mere eight months later
(in true independent form) I’m treated to the sequel, aptly named Natural Selection 2.0

The
legendary Pete Rock shows up once
again to engineer the track for “914,” on which Styles P and Sheek set
the East Coast tone for the rest of the LP. I may just be grasping, but had Jada showed up on this joint, the NY
feel of this track would’ve been front page material considering how weak
things seem to be over there. R.A. The
Rugged Man
was rightfully the 2006 winner of DX‘s verse of the year, and while staking him as a 2007 candidate
for his bars on “Super” may be premature, no one (I repeat, no one) can churn
out rhymes like Rugged Man.

Where
the first Natural Selection was ruled
by the DOOM and Ghostface collaboration “Angels,” this time around the album
standout is “Project Jazz.” Starks
is an absentee this record, but you can’t really be mad at DOOM for recruiting Talib
Kweli
and Hell Razah instead. Do
whatever you can to get on this track because it’s just that dope.

For
the most part, Natural Selection 2.0
isn’t all that different from its predecessor, but there are two key features
this time around that put it on a slightly higher level. The first is the
strong presence of DJ Babu and the
appearance of Little Brother. With “Fan
Mail,” LB comes on point as always
and Joe Scudda more than keeps up
with what will probably be on my personal top 2007 list of beats.

This
record isn’t all East coast, however, as Defari
shows up on another monster Babu
production, “Truth Be Told.” Where the West Coast presence on the first LP
bothered the flow of the very East Coast record, Defari blends a little better than Xzibit and the Strong Arm Steady
crew did last time.

The
aforementioned “Wu-Tang shit” is the
other big factor separating 2.0 from 1. Raekwon,
Masta Killa, Deck, U-God and GZA show up with the help of Mathematics for a handful of tracks and
the most Shaolin Style we’ve seen in years. Again it would have been nice to
see Ghost and Meth‘s names attached to this (and RZA of course), but I’ll take what I can get.

What
we get at the end of everything is yet another dope release from the Nature Sounds team. Since the first Natural Selection LP was my first ever
piece for DX, I remember wondering
why there were never any comments on the record. This time around, it’ll still
bother me if no one has shit to say on Natural
Selection
2.0 but it won’t be because I wrote the piece. I’ll be wondering
why the fuck no one’s listening to such a dope record.