The Re-Up Gang -- Clipse plus Philadelphia MCs Ab-Liva and Sandman -- made their bones on the revelatory three-volume mix-tape series We Got It 4 Cheap, and this full-length is an official introductory vehicle for Pusha T and Malice's moderately less-talented brethren. It's also a writers' workshop, with the fastidious wordsmiths staying sharp by trying to constantly best each other, verse by verse, punch line by punch line. A market placeholder while Clipse ready their third major- label release, The Re-Up Gang will appease only those who are still fiending for the group's endlessly imaginative cocaine metaphors.
Hip-hop is not without its unique ironies: Who could have guessed that one of today's most self-consciously futuristic artists would hail from the storied borough of the Bronx, where the music was born, way back in our 1970s Kodachrome past? The coincidence is not lost on Mickey Factz. "I'd like to think I'm everything that Afrika Bambaataa would've envisioned hip-hop to be in 2008, 2016, or 2030," says the lanky 22-year-old former paralegal. A lofty ideal, but Factz's thoughtful, easygoing manner is far from arrogant; what's more, he's got the neighborhood bona fides to back up his claim to be the famed hip-hop forefather's progeny. He attended Bambaataa alma mater Adlai E. Stevenson High School in the East Bronx, which also counts MCs Remy Martin and Drag-On as alumni.