- Vast Aire
Rare-groove wunderkind Madlib inspires most of the best moments, including "Life's Ill, Pt. 2," a fractured jazz-funk collage that reunites Vast with Vordul, the other half of Cannibal Ox, and the surprising, soulful "Could You Be," where the star overcomes "the butterflies that was holdin' me back" to profess true love. Yet the lows -- like the disses of 7L and Esoteric on "9 Lashes," which take underground squabbles to a new level of pettiness -- make Hands a disappointingly unbalanced ride. Hopefully, now that he's Aire-d on the side of diversity, Vast will recognize that he functions best as a one-producer MC -- and will buttonhole Madlib for a full-length follow-up.