Give Coalmine Records founder Matt Diamond some credit – his Brooklyn-based indie label has flourished and serves as a testament to the will of underground rap music and its survival amid a climate that isn’t kind. In 2011, Diamond and Coalmine Records seek to remind fans that underground hip hop is indeed viable. Coalmine Records’ Can You Dig It span the course of the label’s 5-year existence in a series of singles, with mixed but pleasant results.
The compilation begins with “The Raw” and it inspires head nods immediately. The song features strong rhymes from Saigon and Wu swordsman Inspectah Deck. On the anchor is Bekay, who doesn’t astound. “Attitude” features Supernatural over a Marco Polo banger. Nat isn’t terrible but the backing track helps to propel his at times middling rhymes. Queensbridge’s Big Noyd joins up with two thirds of Strong Arm Steady on “All Out” and the track from Shuko isn’t the strongest but Phil Da Agony and Krondon do their best to overpower the track. A highlight is CL Smooth’s “Perfect Timing”, featuring Skyzoo. M-Phazes provides the MCs with a silky, jazzy track.
Armyfatique’s “The Game Don’t Change” featuring Trife Da God, BURNTmd’s “Microphone Doctor” and XL’s “Codes” featuring Juganot are all tragic snafus. Heltah Skeltah brings things back to life with \ “Midnight Madness” – possibly the strongest song on the entire compilation. Skyzoo shows up again on the amazing Small Professor remix of “Strung Out” with Zoo capably ripping and Bekay redeems himself on “I Am” – the Alchemist track definitely helps out his verses.
The compilation soars, just sinking a bit with some tough guy posturing. There are a lot of “keep it real” tracks and the onus is certainly not on rocking the clubs or radio. This is nothing more than good, head nod inducing headphone music that will please the underground rap fan.