D.I.T.C. Studios / The Fam Agency
D.I.T.C. Studios / The Fam Agency

The Diggin' in the Crates crew are one of the most underrated collectives in hip-hop, which is a travesty. Unlike groups like Native Tongues, D.I.T.C. does have an actual project under their belt, their timeless Y2K self-titled debut. Now they come together in the digital age for the latest effort, Sessions.

Big L, Lord Finesse, Diamond D, O.C., Fat Joe, Buckwild, Showbiz and A.G have all achieved an admirable level of individual success -- Fat Joe has sold millions of records worldwide and was instrumental in the success of the late rapper Big Pun, Diamond D and Lord Finesse both dropped classic records that helped shape the NYC golden era sound, as well as both produced a number notable records for a list of who's who in the industry.

The death of Big L, though, seemed to mark the temporary end of their cohesive magic. After their 2000 album, although still active on a production tip -- and aside from a few releases that featured O.C. and AG -- the group wasn't a real unit. Fans who were hungry for an official follow-up to the debut were served a K.O. by Showbiz, who announced that the crew itself was defunct and would no longer create any new albums, citing musical creative differences. Luckily for real hip-hop heads, that proved to be untrue. As O.C. stated, their deceased friend Big L would not want them to end their legacy like that. Their new album, Sessions, is a return to the good old New York hip-hop that made them so revered in their heyday.

The electric guitar-sampled song "Rock Shyt" made its rounds before the album dropped, but the final LP includes a new mix, "Rock Shyt Too." The song does a wonderful job of not only reaffirming D.I.T.C.'s longevity, but their place in hip-hop in 2016. Joe calls out rappers who "can't go back to where they came from," which Lord Finesse defiantly states, "we'll be here long after the tight jean era."

"Make Em' So Proud" provides a look at how far the crew's members have come over the last 20-plus years in the game, while reflecting on first-hand milestones from the golden era of the culture -- from the crew's inception to the loss of Big L in 1999.

D.I.T.C. then step outside of the true school hip-hop bravado on the record "It's Cold Outside," an insightful examination of the police brutality that has been gripping the nation. A solid highlight is the new mix of the record "Diggin' Number," which is a roll call posse cut that the crew previously released nine months ago.

One thing that is apparent on Sessions is how early Big L was taken from the game -- the rapper doesn't have any lost or unreleased vocals featured here. While the Harlem legend is noticeably missing -- with the exception of his "thank you" in the intro -- the crew shows that they're still together. Although, the project could have used at least one additional 16 from Lord Finesse.

In a digital age where mumble rappers are climbing the ranks and earning more clout for their social media standing rather than their lyrical prowess, D.I.T.C.'s Sessions is a refreshing, solid representation of hip-hop on a higher level. The younger generation may not be too familiar with a D.I.T.C. song but this new music is still easy for a millennial hip-hop head to digest. Plus, longtime fans can still feel the thrill of records like "Day One, "Thick" and "The Enemy." Good music like this is timeless.

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