Us3, Stop.Think.Run (Us3)

Jazz/hip-hop resurrection

If the name Us3 evokes memories of early-'90s jazz-based hip-hop, it should. The project founded by Geoff Wilkinson caught the attention of millions with its horn-soaked '93 hit, "Cantaloop." But after the release of that single and subsequent album, Us3 never quite ignited the same stateside buzz. Fast-forward to 2009, and Wilkinson and crew are back in effect with Stop.Think.Run—an album likely to get people talking again about the Us3 brand.

Working with many of the same musicians on the new LP helps Wilkinson preserve the group's old jazz base with decent-enough results (see "Life Love Music"). But just as often, this collective approaches its tracks from a new, sometimes simpler perspective. "Got to Make a Livin'" is a choice sample, as the minimal bounce isn't driven by any one blatant element but rather a perfect blend of drums, piano, synths and scratches. Emerging MC Sene is also an equal ingredient to the aforementioned track and much of the album with his Blu-esque composure.

Wilkinson's willingness to reach out to future hip-hop talent such as Sene and Brook Yung is what helps give several cuts, including "Who Got Next?" and "I Let 'Em Know," that extra vitality. Ultimately, the oft-understated production balanced with the guest vocals make this album a triumph. [3.5 out of 5 stars]