I'd probably exceed my allotted word count just roll calling all the A-list amigos that appear on Hi-Tek's latest release. Established hip-hop statesmen like Q-Tip, Nas, Talib Kweli, Common, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon (among many others) drop solid contributions on top of a neck-snapping, toe-tapping canvas of orchestral loops, bleating organs and asphalt beats. Hi-Tek's watertight production work gives his guests ample room and groove to rhyme and shine. But he also takes the time to do some substantial mike damage himself. "Keep It Moving" and "Let It Go" are built around a silky-smooth '70s vibe with soulful hooks guiding the choruses. Cuts like "The Chip," "Where It Started At (NY)" and the album's reverent closer, "Music for Life," are riddled with symphonic back-alley loops that throw back to Gang Starr's heyday. Tek also proves to be quite the balladeer, slipping tasty nuggets of lovey dovey into knicker-dropping jams like "Can We Go Back?" and "Baby We Can Do It." Despite The Game and Busta Rhymes bringing a little too much ghetto gusto and not enough gravity to their respective guest spots, The Chip might have "future hip-hop classic" written all over it.


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