Frank N Dank

For certain hip-hoppers affiliated with J Dilla, making music without the legendary producer just isn't the same since he passed away. He helped a slew of average MCs get a rep, but his beats were so crisp and mind-boggling, it was easy to forget how pedestrian some of his friends were at the mic. Detroit rap veterans Frank N Dank were merely drug dealers before J Dilla got them out of the streets to pursue music, and they'll always be seen as a Dilla project whether they like it or not. But the duo's newest album, Xtended Play, does a good job of distancing itself from Dilla's sound and, in fairness, has an unexpected Caribbean vibe that's a welcome change. They've relocated to Toronto, and it's good to hear Canadian stalwarts Saukrates and Kardinal Offishall featured on the album as well. Still, it's no surprise that "Okay" is the best track here; not only did Dilla lace it with hard-hitting drums and signature claps but it's a hustler's anthem that Detroit and T-Dot can claim equally. While a bit of patois creeps out on some songs and Madlib's younger brother Oh No handles production for "My City," there's still a gritty Detroit sound here. "The Hustle" is all about chasing bread, and while it's not bling-bling, FND's affinity for flossing is prevalent throughout this project.

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