Record reviews: New local hip-hop

Chris DeVille, Columbus Alive

Path, "The Hustle Brand EP" and "The Peasant Life"

"The Hustle Brand EP," a title that humorously references Jared "Path" Young's resemblance to a certain British comedian, shows progression on every front since solo debut "The Next Big Thing." His vocal delivery is sharper; his soul-sampled production is smoother; his kid-coming-up stories are more believable.

Steamboat's Charlie Smith, the latest Columbus rocker to guest on a Path track, also lends his name to a very 8-bit N.E.S. track on Path's other new release, "The Peasant Life."Each of the LP's instrumentals is named after a person who influenced Path's life. Hopefully a rapper tends to these beats someday; "Wes Eckmayer" sounds way better repurposed as a proper rap song on the new EP.

Path will perform at Skully's 10-year anniversary party this Saturday.

Freaky Franz, "The Freaky Tales"

Franz Lyons' ever-burgeoning resume now includes props from Fool's Gold Records and a CMJ performance. The hype is merited: Franz doesn't have much range as a rapper and producer, but he absolutely owns his territory. The limited guest spots are well chosen for national cache (Telephoned) and local love (P. Blackk), but mostly "The Freaky Tales" is just Lyons wilding out in the loudest, lewdest possible manner over woozy beats that crunch like the hardcore punk coursing through his veins. Swag overdose, indeed.

B.Yonest, "The Introduction of Penn Franklin Trixtape"

Some rappers switch on their charisma in the vocal booth only to resume a subdued day-to-day existence. The trouble with B.Yonest's new "The Introduction of Penn Franklin Trixtape" is that the rapper's powerful everyday charm doesn't shine through nearly enough. These tracks are expertly honed for pop radio breakthrough - think Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" or Lupe's "Superstar" - but rarely do they leap from the speakers with those "eureka" moments that separate a mixtape from the impossibly crowded pack.