If you don’t know about the Living Legends, you should know one thing: The guys are grinders. Driven by a love for rhyme and a hard working mentality, the rhymers from L.A. and The Bay have redefined underground West Coast for years. So, while on their scheduled “off-time” between albums, they managed to tour extensively and create new material. The Double L is back with a serving for its fans and newcomers on The Gathering EP, a disc meant to set the stage for their full-length album scheduled to drop later in the year. Now, it’s only a seven track EP. However, it should be noted that every emcee spits on every track. Murs, Lucky, The Grouch, Aesop, Bicasso, Sunspot Jonz, Scarub and Eligh share the mic to make every song a posse cut. This is a blessing and a curse.

At times, there is a cohesive flow that can be attributed to the age old cliché of “good chemistry.” The Legends are known for having a bond like a band of brothers and this album befits the description. On the title track, one after another, each emcee delivers a straight slap in the face to any doubters. Later, they manage to have that same consistency while rhyming about political topics on “War and Peace” and their sexual exploits on “She Wants Me.” On each of these tracks, the rappers balance being themselves with being a group in a manner rarely seen.

This brings us to another highlight of the album. The Gathering showcases versatility in flows and topical choice as noted, but also in their beat selection. They go from the mellow sounds of “Luva Changer” to the Latin rhythms in “Samba.” They go from the hard percussion in the title track to the commercially viable “She Wants Me.” By crafting the EP at the famous Encore Studios, there is a much improved quality to the sound of the Legends. This only reinforces their talent by providing a proper sound, much different from the old hiss-filled Gypsy cuts.

There really is little to pick at here. With only seven cuts, there’s no room for error. While none of the tracks get drawn out, as one would expect from eight members on each song, there are some drawbacks on here. Every MC is really going hard, which at times shows a glaring difference in quality. Sunspot, for instance, goes Bizarre on “She Wants Me,” an otherwise solid track where he brings a yawn worthy flow that begs for a skip button. Mainly, though, there is not much to dislike on the EP. For newcomers, there are some pieces of the project that can be described as acquired taste. Although some tracks may need to grow on the listener, it is also highly friendly to newcomers.

In short, this EP encompasses a lot of what The Living Legends have always been about. It showcases the intelligent and the ignorant. It discusses groupie love, real love, hate and anger, providing social/political dialogue and some straight up raw rap. It’s the good and the bad. It’s old school Legends with a newer sound. The Gathering proves that the crew can still unite to make ill material. Even with the missteps, there is no denying that this group can work together to continue an underground legacy that has already reached many fans on a worldwide level. As an appetizer, it certainly shows that, if there is more where this came from, the main course may be worth the wait.