Click album cover to D/L at Bandcamp.

Having never been an MC myself — unless rapping along enthusiastically to Wu-Tang’s “Triumph” alone in the car counts — it can be difficult for me to determine the real from the fake. I’m talking here about all the wannabe rappers responsible for the endless stream of one-offs and (seemingly) impressive 15-plus track albums that show up in the 206UP.COM Inbox for “my listening pleasure.” That’s partially why The TrackMeet feature was started: to put some of the onus on YOU, dear Reader, to figure it out for me.

Illaphant was one such rapper. The Laotian-American MC submitted a joint for one edition of The TrackMeet, along with a six-track preview of the full-length mixtape featured in this post, Sticky Rice and Mangos. After finally getting a chance to hear the finished product, it’s a safe bet to say dude can legitimately spit. His everyday tales of being broke, living in the SEA and excursions with the opposite sex are pretty standard fare as far as subject matter goes, but the most important thing here is that I stayed entertained. SR&M‘s soulful boom-bap and Illaphant’s engaging spirit on the mic are a promising combination. The impassioned closing track, “The Zs Come Later” (which, by definition, is more spoken word than hip-hop) reveals an artist with much bigger things on his mind than what dominates Sticky Rice and Mangos. Here’s hoping more of that gets explored on the MC’s next project.

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