The latest offering of young hip hop groove kings 857, Standout, fulfills its prophecy. It runs the gamut of social landscapes right from the terror-soaked intro of a guy being brutally terrorized á la Vanilla Ice and Suge Knight of legend all the way to the CD's end, Chillin' Remix -- a fun little ditty, that one! Writer YKC takes us on a trip through the urban jungle, from the cribs to the hot spots, with a few stops to dwell in dark alleys of thought between. Composer Al-G has a great ear across the board. Effectively harnessing such varied influences as classical piano, Gregorian chant, Caribbean steel, and gritty guitar, his hand gives each cut a pretty individual sound, while still managing to make the CD as a whole a fairly cohesive compilation.

YKC's website bio states that he "…writes like he spent a while in prison…" Yes. Indeed he does. Blood is a vitriolic piece aimed at a consistently disappointing family which hits its mark dead-on. Deranged seems to be an homage to some nameless product of just such dysfunction. Dark, downright scary; these tunes will make you shiver.

The impish, make you want to slap'em-AND-hug'em naughty little boys come out to play in full regalia in tunes like Barface, an extremely mean-spirited take on lounge lizards whose intro is reminiscent of TLC's Reversal of a Dog (1992), but quickly launches into its own little groove; Wingman, featuring a contribution by Impulse Society, is a hilarious cut dedicated to the guys who corral backstage groupies; and Yo Mom and I.

Banned Aid, Next Level, and Eruption all carry great sound; and Up In There are guaranteed to make you wistful for the sunscreen and rum.

Social commentary even makes an appearance through such vehicles as Frontpage and Prime Time; and inspiration to transcend through The Real You is effective. 

Overall, this is a really good effort. Fantastic sound, evocative lyrics, and the right energy to capture both; Standout is one to add to the collection… and 857 is the hip hop group for which to look out.