If your hip-hop tastes lean more toward Quasimoto, DJ Shadow, Dan the Automator, Basehead and Tricky than to Jay-Z and DMX, then Mush is right up your alley. Over the past few years, this L.A.-based indie label and its eclectic, avant-rap roster have been quietly amassing fans, as well as accolades in rags ranging from Urb to the New York Times. Terms like "trip-hop," "illbient," "downtempo instrumental" and "abstract hip-hop" have been bandied about in the attempt to describe the Mush sound; but the point is, this stuff sounds like nothing you'll hear on Power or the Beat.

The last date of the label's 32-city tour features the cream of the Mush crew: Labtekwon, Radioinactive, Reaching Quiet and cLOUDDEAD. All four make creative use of hip-hop's cut-and-paste aesthetic, forging somnambulant grooves from disparate musical sources, samples and sound bites, while bizarre lyrics skip across their tracks like words in an e.e. cummings composition. In other words, this is hip-hop as sonic poetry, not dance music, so don't expect to get jiggy. Herbal enlightenment is highly recommended.


Mush Records