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The Away Team's Independence Day

(The Academy/ IWWMG)

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The Away Team's DJ Eclipse-assisted mixtape, Independence Day, unites a handful of rapper Sean Boog's past anthems— "The Shining," "Likka Hi," "The End of the Day"—from the duo's National Anthem and Training Day LPs with a smattering of fierce freestyles over producer Khrysis' beats for other emcees—Masta Ace's "Da Grind," Jean Grae's "The Jam," Sean Price's "One." It's a free, public primer for the group's third album, Scars and Stripes, due this fall.

Khrysis sneaks in some impressive rap here, but, lyrically, The Away Team is still Boog's franchise. He barks up the infinite rap fence, but the question still remains: Do we believe him? We didn't need 9th Wonder to admit that Khrysis, his longtime Justus League colleague, is the "way better" beatmaker. Most of us knew that as early as 2005, when Khrysis delivered productions more memorable than 9th's on Rapper Big Pooh's Sleepers. Rather, the crucial issue is why Boog remains such an overlooked rapper. As this career survey suggests, Boog avoids egomania and megalomania. He knows that he can rap, but he doesn't have the swagger to brag about it. He should. If a Sean P.-induced collaboration like "Psycho Ward" is what it takes for Boog to act threatening, hopefully Khrysis has some such tricks stacked for Scars and Stripes. Then, look out.

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