Review

The hip-hop equivalent to the indie rock mainstay of the self-pressed demo CD, the mixtape is the prime way to introduce a new rapper to an audience. Once a strictly underground phenomenon, the mixtape has become such a key part of building P.R. in hip-hop that there's getting to be almost no demarcation between a mixtape and a proper album. Case in point: The Preview is subtitled "official mixtape," and the spoken word introductory track goes to some pains to announce that this should not be considered Grafh's debut album, but if this isn't a proper album, then the word has officially lost all meaning. An East Coast rapper with some fairly gangsta leanings but a knack for pop-style hooks (check the chorus of the intense "Rep Ya Set," which features a killer hook), Grafh also has a solid, dextrous verbal flow. Some of the lyrics are the usual guns-and-hos clichés, but overall, The Preview bodes well for Grafh's "official" debut release. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi

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