Any album that begins with the Windows 98 start-up theme has to be either dope or stuck in the past. However, for Dwight Farrell – aka Count Bass-D – the past is a pleasant one.

Seven years after his successful debut, the Count’s third release, Dwight Spitz, is a confident collage of mid-school-sounding hip hop. The rhyming is casually intelligent, the beats are friendly, the samples are curious and the sequencing is dead-on.

The album’s downfall is that the average song is one and a half minutes long and the tracks play too much like an album sampler. This is great for the ADD-afflicted, but for those who pay careful attention to the music, anticlimactic fades and interludes prevent the Count’s work from reaching a steady flow. Even so, most of the album’s 24 tracks are highly noteworthy, and quality is not decreased in songs that are longer than three minutes – all of which are clustered at the end of the album.

Noteworthy cuts include the beautiful “Real Music vs. Bullshit” – which flips an amazing Quincy Jones sample, “No Time For Fakin’ (pt II)” – in which the Count utilizes an old Casio keyboard beat to create the funkiest cut on the album, and “My First Piece,” containing a female spoken-word artist backed by a thought-provoking loop. Stellar appearances by MF Doom, J-Rawls and especially newcomer Edan round out the album.

Count Bass-D may be considered a hip hop veteran, but his style is as fresh as a new pair of cargo pants.

[Mr. Bell is going to name his kid Count Bibby … go Kings]