Jake One Pulls His White Van Into Town

In the world of hip hop, regional and stylistic divisions have been starkly highlighted since before Tim Dog got the idea that maybe Compton wasn't all that respectable. And while things aren't as heated as they were during the coastal beefs of the '90s, the fractured nature of the genre -- underground vs. pop, golden-age lyricism vs. hook-centered personality cults, the South vs. everyone else -- still ensures that there's a dozen places to cross over to and just as many reasons to stay doing what you're doing. That's why Jake One's career has been one of hip hop's most interesting underheard stories.

As a producer, the Seattle native's been kind of a mercenary in the decade-plus he's been active -- supplying beats to gangsta-pop juggernauts G-Unit one moment ("Betta Ask Somebody"), producing key tracks for conscious-rap icons De La Soul the next ("Rock Co.Kane Flow") -- but displaying that kind of versatility without gimmicks or compromise is the kind of skill most producers can't lay claim to as much as Jake One does. White Van Music is his full-length "debut" (term used loosely), out on Rhymesayers today, and just looking at the guest list it's apparent that damn near every region is represented. Just for starters: Little Brother and Nottz rep the South, gravel-voiced hyphy don Keak da Sneak and Hiero member Casual rep the Bay Area, Alchemist and Evidence rep L.A., Detroit favorites from Black Milk to Elzhi and Royce Da 5'9" have their turns, Vitamin D, C Note, Maine & Ish come from the Pacific Northwest, and NYC's roll call includes everyone from Busta Rhymes to MF DOOM to Young Buck. And the Twin Cities delegation? Slug and Brother Ali, who appear on different tracks with De La's Posdnous and Philly Def Jam heavyweight Freeway respectively.

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Early spins have this blogger reminiscing about those Rawkus comps he used to bump constantly around the turn of the '00s, and there doesn't seem to be a weak beat in the bunch. Hopefully it won't be too short notice to point out that the man who put it all together is doing a massive in-store at the Fifth Element this evening at 5PM, hosted by Brother Ali and featuring appearances from I Self Divine, DJ King Otto and a beat battle between Doomtree's Lazerbeak and Big Quarters' Medium Zach. To tide you over, here's a clip of the man of honor talking about his history, his production techniques and whether it's a good idea to use production equipment without a manual.

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