West Oaktown

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The rough edges of Oakland's east side play home to most of the city's hip hop, but now here comes Colossus, representing out of the west. Curious thing though: Colossus' nucleus, the rather tall Charlie Tate, is a British expatriate best known for his electronic soul experiments as half of King Kooba and as bassist for U.K. funk act Big Cheese Allstars. But when King Kooba started working with S.F.'s Om Records a few years back, Tate relocated to Oakland and founded a now-defunct weekly party called "Slow Gin," which turned out to be the incubator and catalyst for Colossus' debut. The project includes contributions from Bay Area MCs Capitol A (rhyming on three songs and shining brightest on the single "The Tribute") and Azeem, as well as Hilton Smythe aka Roots Manuva, one of the U.K.'s most respected rappers. West Oaktown is a double-disc set that includes a side of hip hop remixes of Tate's more jazz/funk originals. Since he's a bassist at heart, the low end is at the forefront of both discs. The total package is a fitting tribute to those good and tipsy nights at "Slow Gin," and, as the label's first foray into hip hop, a nice achievement for the 10-year-old Om, which is known primarily for its house releases.

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