One of the things that's held local hip-hop back over the years is the scene's underlying insularity. Cats will only work with MCs who have the same mindset or live on the same side of town rather than experimenting with different styles or collaborating with artists outside their realm. Thankfully, DJs Joe Thunder and Selector Sam are working to undermine such conventions by uniting Colorado MCs on mixtapes like Dez the Man, a 39-track effort starring veteran rapper Dez. Disc one features Dez spitting with his crew over G-funk and West Coast-influenced beats on "Dope Rhymes" and "Blow Doe." Similar to E-40 or Method Man, Dez has a distinct voice that sets him apart. But on disc two, where Dez collaborates with almost every MC in Denver, he gets overshadowed a bit, especially on up-tempo cuts such as "Thug's Life" and the Tribe Called Quest-leaning "Keep It Moving." In the presence of such strong MCs as Young J.R. and P.A.A.S., who pull absolutely no punches, that sort of thing is bound to happen. For the most part, though, Dez holds his own throughout this exceptional project.