ALTHOUGH only released in 2006 but recorded almost a decade before, Darc Mind's long-awaited, almost forgotten album was still a breath of fresh air.
Originally recorded between 1995 and 1997 for Loud Records, the New York label went bust and Symptomatic Of A Greater Ill never saw the light of day recently, when Anticon unearthed it and put it out to a muted response.
But the Darc Mind duo of rapper Kevroc and producer X-Ray are two treasures that had to be found.
Kevroc's rap style is a laid back one, but with metronome-sharp timing, instrumental old-school phrasing of inplausibly dense lyrics and a Grand Canyon-deep rumble of a voice with which to deliver it.
Add to this sultry boom-bap beats from DJ X-Ray, also known as GM Webb D, and this turns into what would surely have been a grade A classic, forward thinking and with a nod to its predecessors, had it been around in the correct context.
But even 10 years too late, driven by the percussive interplay between drum and vocal and laced with sultry horns, despite being a small fish in a big dog's pond, the album still struts fearlessly in the company of the Kanye Wests, Eminems and 50 Cents of today's charts.