Music News

Federation

If the name of the label releasing Federation's debut rings a bell for Denverites, it should. The moniker was chosen by Big Jon Platt, a local-hero-turned-industry-powerhouse who heads the imprint, to honor the metro-area neighborhood where he came of age. The local connections end there, but the disc remains notable for its canny commercial instincts and willingness to upset expectations.

Even though Federation-mates Doonie Baby, Goldie Gold and Mr. Stres hail from the Bay Area, they don't exude the standard West Coast hip-hop vibe. Instead, under the tutelage of producer Rick Rock, who's worked with Platt pal Jay-Z, they ransack the continent in search of great sounds. "What Is It," featuring El Dorado Red, salutes Atlanta via an enjoyably crunky beat; "Hyphy," co-starring E-40, has a Carolina feel thanks to its spare, Neptunes-like arrangement; and "Go to Work" evokes vintage Strong Island with its ferocious party groove.

The majority of tracks here are about as original as The Album's name, but Rock's skills as a sonic synthesist keep the fun rolling. That's good news for Montbello Records -- and if Big Jon reacts to this success by reaching out to talent in his home town, it could be positive for the original Montbello, too.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts