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First Flush
The First Flush Compilation
We Stain Porcelain (WSP)
Camobear Records
Ranking 4.25/5

With so many major labels pushing quantity over quality, it's always refreshing to hear an underground album stressing quality. Although it took seven years to complete, We Stain Porcelain's First Flush Compilation has been well worth the wait. Headed by mastermind producer James Orr, this compilation successfully captures the beauty of underground hip-hop.

The production is heavily laced with instrument samples, as James Orr also relies on his grade 12 piano skills to spice up several tracks with his abilities. Not surprisingly, 7 of the 19 songs are purely instrumental, which to most would be a bold move, but with WSP at the reins it fruitfully yields some of the bolder, more daring and captivating songs on The First Flush Compilation. 'Rei Ayanne' is my favorite instrumental track as the piano leadup seamlessly leads into drums and flute, before being iced with an unexpected tribal sound mixed with deep bass. On several songs, James and his We Stain Porcelain crew are able to create a sound imagery equivalent to a full band, at times reminiscent of the latest Roots album. It's a truly captivating experience.

A compilation of expertly created sounds is never complete without a cast of supporting rap acts. WSP digs deep into the Canadian underground hip-hop scene pulling out some of the more elite underground acts. The duo of First Words (composed of Above & Sean One) and Microphone Jones caused me to "slip drip drop over their real hip hop" with their heavy-hitting 'Headwounds.' 'Marching Boys [Who's Streets?]' is already an amazing barrage of marching-band synthesizing sounds even before adding the authoritarian vocals of Cee!!!!!. Sixtoo, recently signed to DJ Vadim's Ninja Tunes label, will have his riveting chorus on 'Paper People' churning through your mind for days. Mic Jones also makes his case with the boastfully arrogant, yet impressive 'Malicious Remarks.' The smooth female spoken word stylings of L.O.L. make 'Curiosity' a beautiful and thought-provoking classic. Other strong showings include contributions from Josh Martinez, Kunga219 and Tachichi.

The long wait for We Stain Porcelain's The First Flush Compilation was well worthwhile. Although some levels lack fine-tuned mixing, the overall WSP experience was fully enjoyed. The First Flush Compilation is a beautiful mix of instruments (both live and sampled) and underground Canadian rap acts yielding a musically scenic route in the road to the creation of classic underground hip-hop album.

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This review was written May 15, 2003
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