Tony Touch - The Piece Maker 2

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"It's your favorite DJ's favorite DJ..." declares Tony Toca on his latest joint The Piece Maker 2 and it is a claim that is made with the sly sort of winking certainty that is purely Tone's style. Everybody's got love for Tony Touch. Not only is he the embodiment of true Nuyorican soul and flavor, he is one of the fundamental pillars of New York Hip-Hop. Tony represents solely for his peoples on the block, and for that he is loved and respected. His tireless presence has been felt all over Hip-hop culture for close to two decades now, permeating every aspect of the culture with his exponentially prolific efforts. Tony has had some impact on everything that is Hip-Hop. He has successfully elevated the medium of the mixtape to an art form by making it the truest voice of expression for the DJ, and he set the standard with classic releases like his "50 Emcees" series of tapes. Years of putting in work, putting out tapes and continuous gigs behind the wheels for just about everyone in Hip-Hop led to his full-length album debut, "The Piece Maker" in 2000, and since then everyone has been eagerly awaiting its follow up; "Piece Maker 2."

Just about every track on "Piece Maker 2" is bangin', with a little something for everyone. Tony Touch brings every aspect of his game to the forefront, and his enlisted arsenal of MC's and producers is a perfect complement to his skill. Again the roster is filled with some serious guest spots (over 50, as usual) and Tony's musical intellect is displayed in the savvy configuring of artists and tracks, as well as in his ability to match styles and flows. At the same time he keeps his identity intact by constantly repping his own flavor, regardless of who else is on the track with him. No matter what the vibe, or who is spittin', you always know that it's a Tony Toca joint because of how it feels. He manages to perfectly replicate the vibe of a live and loud block party in his mix. From the jump Tony picks right up where the first "Piece Maker" left off. He re-establishes his ongoing Spanglish cultural and musical dialogue, bringing together heritage, language and history with Salsa legend Ruben Blades warming it up over a sinister intro beat. From there Tony launches into the New York anthem "Non-Stop" with Bad Boys Diddy, G-Dep and Black Rob over a pulsing, hook-laden track that is a sure-fire club banger. The RZA takes it right back to '93 with a vintage track that features Raekwon, U-God and Method Man. "Capicu," which was produced by the Beatnuts' JuJu, teams Tony up with Joey Crack and N.O.R.E and goes right for the jugular. "Dimelo" is all bouncing drums and Spanish guitar. Tone's counterpart Doo Wop returns as the other half of The Diaz brothers on the venomous-sounding "Click Bang," and Tony's vocal delivery is, as always, sly and understated and deadly casual. Toca keeps the sound worldwide live with another club-thumper: "Ay, Ay, Ay," which features the hit-machine that is Sean Paul. "Spit 1" is easily he sickest joint on the entire album. Fellow Rock Steady alum Q-Unique is razor sharp over a hypnotic and loping piano sample that is just too bugged out to describe. "Out da' Box" is another banger with its legendary lineup of Pete Rock, Large Professor and Masta Ace, while the inimitable Slick Rick paints a lyrical portrait of a drive gone awry due to overzealous fans on "Trouble on the Westside Highway." Dead Prez bring their socialism and consciousness and add a nice touch to the album with the high-energy unity anthem: "Touch 1 Touch All."

With so many stellar MC's and producers all involved in one project like this there is always the danger of over-hype and the ultimate disappointment that inevitably comes with it. Fortunately, Piece Maker II suffers none of these maladies. This is largely due to the presence of Tony himself. His very real, everyday-man approach to what he does is fully evident and it brings with it an inherent sense of integrity that goes beyond the music itself. But, ultimately, it is the music that speaks loudest, and Tony Touch has come up with a collection of tracks that not only define a moment of time in Hip-Hop culture, they celebrate it.

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