Reviews / Music


Musab: Slicks Box

Musab is a hustler with a conscience. The Minnesota-bred rapper, also a pimp by day, spends most of Slicks Box (Hiero Imperium) both acknowledging the repercussions of his trade and offering no apologies for enjoying its spoils. But apparently it really is hard out here for a you-know-what, and it seems Musab uses this album… Read more »



Hurricane Chris: 51/50 Ratchet PREVIEW

I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.  “I ain’t no one hit wonder.”  “This is a movement!” “We not in it for the ringtones.”  Images of Laffy Taffy, Chicken Noodle Soup, and other disposable cannon fodder come to mind almost immediately.  Enter Hurricane Chris and the Ratchet Movement.  The ingredients are all familiar. Catchy club… Read more »



Percee P: Perseverance

Good things take time. In an era where half-baked rappers release multiple albums to invisible masses, Percee P bares 20 years of rhyming excellence known mostly to cult twelve-inch collectors and from hand-to-hand album sales in front of New York’s Fat Beats. Decades after lung-collapsing lyricism on microphones shared with Big L, Pharoahe Monch, Large… Read more »



Havoc: The Kush

If Havoc, the lower-key member of Mobb Deep had to choose a claim to fame as an artist it might be a challenge. Some dub him chiefly responsible for the gritty Queensbridge theme music that is his signature production style. Others tip their hat to his baritone vocals that have played lyrical double dutch with… Read more »



The Devil & Dave Chappelle

If such thing as black urban politics exists, the bracket has surely found its most loyal correspondent. William Jelani Cobb’s The Devil & Dave Chappelle & Other Essays (Thunder Mouth Press)compiles his writings on Hip Hop, the Million Man March, the Cosby Show, the Tuskegee airmen, and any other topic that perplexes the thinking black… Read more »



Twista: Adrenaline Rush 2007

Coming back for the first time is no easy task. So with Twista’s latest release Adrenaline Rush 2007 (Atlantic) holding the same name as its predecessor 10-years the senior, expectations are high. This nouveau rush finds Twista further away from his radio friendly previous releases, which was technically a deviation from the style that he… Read more »



Grayskul: Bloody Radio

Grayskul’s latest offering, Bloody Radio (Rhymesayers)—their first release since 2005’s Deadlivers—is an album that shares a similar (albeit darker) feel to other artists coming off of the Rhymesayers label such as Atmosphere and P.O.S. Yet, Bloody Radio fails to leave a lasting impression after repeated listens; like numerous other albums have  on this respectable indie… Read more »



Chamillionaire: Ultimate Victory

Chamillionaire’s going all political on his new album, Ultimate Victory (Universal Motown), and this time he doesn’t care if he impresses anyone with slick punch lines and metaphors. Instead, Cham packs this album with intelligence and a sick flow. Coming off his Grammy-winning single “Ridin’,” Cham shows no signs of fall off on his delayed… Read more »



Mic Geronimo: Alive

Queens’ MC Mic Geronimo earned respect as a Hip-Hop lyricist for his 1995 LP, The Natural.  A gem worth mining, it spawned the hit singles “Sh*t’s Real” and the moody masterpiece “Masta I.C.,” and the album is revered in Hip-Hop as a street-certified classic. More albums followed (1996’s Vendetta and 2003’s The Long Road Back)… Read more »



WC: Guilty By Affiliation

Unlike L.A. veterans DJ Quik and MC Eiht, WC has always released material, whether group or solo, at a slower pace. Since 2004’s Def Jam one-off, the shadiest one has rebuilt Lench Mob Records with Ice Cube, and the two-thirds of Westside Connection worked hand-in-hand in crafting Guilty By Affiliation (Lench Mob Records), a polished… Read more »



50 Cent: Curtis

Even though he might not admit it publicly, 50 Cent is looking at some serious pressure coming into Curtis (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope). His debut, Get Rich Or Die Trying, killed everything moving in 2003. As a follow up his soldiers would put up respectable numbers individually going into the G-Unit general’s follow up, The Massacre.  Fast forwarding… Read more »



Kanye West: Graduation

Black robes. Tassles. Commencement? Not in the world of Kanye West. Replace that robe with an under-sized Starter jacket, polo shirt, and over-sized shades and you’ve stepped into his Graduation (Roc-A-Fella/ Def Jam). On this the third album from the Louis Vuitton Don you might just flip out with excitement over both familiar Ye beats… Read more »



The Murder Of Fred Hampton

Almost everybody has an opinion on the Black Panthers. Some laud them as the revolutionary alternative to the sometimes passive peace movements of the 1960’s. Others dismiss them as an overglorified street gang, predecessors to the Bloods and Crips. The Murder of Fred Hampton (Facets) DVD documentary chronicles the untimely death of the Black Panther… Read more »



Gumsole Beatdowns #1: Premier

    Despite what Common believes, has not found the new Premo. And we don’t want to. Few producers have introduced (and reintroduced) as many artists as credibly or as eloquently as that signature dusty, chopped and scratch-based sound coming from “The East.”     At 41 years old, the man born Christopher Martin has only… Read more »



Aesop Rock: None Shall Pass

It’s been two years since Aesop Rock’s last release, the excellent but brief Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives EP and four since his last full length LP, Bazooka Tooth; but the wait was definitely worth while. As experimentation has increased over the last few years in underground Hip-Hop (most noted within the Def Jux… Read more »



Omillio Sparks: The Payback

Officially Omillio Sparks’ first solo release, The Payback (Colossal Entertainment/Koch) might make you yearn for a State Property reunion. But, listen longer and you’ll realize that Sparks shines brighter on his own. The album is no-frills with guest appearances kept to a minimum (only two) and production handled by newcomers Versatile Dilemma and Black Key…. Read more »



Yung Joc: Hustlenomics

Welcome to Hustlenomics 101, today we learn to get it done by any means necessary. That pretty much sums up Yung Joc’s latest Hustlenomics (Block Entertainment/Bad Boy South)—lying, cheating, stealing, and genuinely being sly are the building block to any successful hustler. And Joc plays an amazing hustler because he sure did a great job… Read more »



Killah Priest: The Offering

Since releasing his debut album Heavy Mental in 1998, Killah Priest has managed to establish himself as one of the most consistent, talented emcees in the game.  His sixth solo album, The Offering (Good Hands), once again fulfills the lofty standards that Priest has set for himself.Although he is a veteran, Priest still sounds hungry… Read more »



Galactic: From The Corner To The Block

What could go wrong when one of the country’s most experimental jazz groups collaborates with some of Hip-Hop’s most innovative emcees?  Galactic’s sixth studio album, From the Corner to the Block (ANTI-), answers emphatically: “not too much.” The self-proclaimed jazz-funk-rock group, spawned over a decade ago in New Orleans, provides the background while a slew… Read more »



Talib Kweli: Ear Drum

Sometimes is seems like Talib Kweli doesn’t have the career he really wanted. Hip-Hop fans tend to prefer their artists to find a category and stick with it, so whether an MC is introduced to the game as a thug, playboy, intellectual or whatever else, the audience has a certain expectation that he plays that… Read more »



Mr. Untouchable: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Heroin’s Teflon Don

Often name-dropped by countless rappers and touted as the “John Gotti” of the 1970s, Leroy “Nicky” Barnes bares his life story in this narrative account.  Written in collaboration with author Tom Folsom, Mr. Untouchable: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Heroin’s Teflon Don (Rugged Land) is the unadulterated story of a Harlem linchpin told in… Read more »



Boot Camp Clik: Casualties of War

The summer of 2006 witnessed the longstanding super-group The Boot Camp Clik release their richest, most skillful work in The Last Stand. Arguably perceived as a cry for attention, the militant Brooklyn outfit made music to gain recognition after a chapter of critical and mainstream ignorance since the late ‘90s. As it were, the stand… Read more »



Public Enemy: How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?

Why isn’t Chuck D. comparable to Reverend Butts or Sharpton?  Like collaborator KRS-One did with Hip Hop Lives this year, he stopped merely griping about Hip-Hop’s deterioration and has instead offered a compelling alternative to rap’s violent mainstream malaise.  How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? (Slam Jamz) is a… Read more »



Freekey Zekey: Book Of Ezekiel

The transition from executive to artist and artist to executive is nothing new. Some do it well and others…not so much.  Unfortunately, Diplomat Records president Freekey Zekey’s debut album, Book of Ezekiel (Diplomat/Asylum) is far from a smooth transition.   When an album holds 18 tracks you get the idea that the artist has something to… Read more »



UGK: Underground Kingz

Longtime UGK fans have been deprived of this fabled eighth effort for a little over a half a decade. Many waited with unquestioned loyalty, but surely there were a lot of questions in the air. Even fans had to ponder whether or not the legendary duo could still make relevant music in 2007, especially after… Read more »



Sean Kingston: Sean Kingston

This Jamaica-born, Miami-native, 17-year-old brings nothing but feel-good, dance music in his self-titled debut. Sean Kingston (Epic Records). Combining Hip-Hop, reggae, and a taste of old-school doo wop, Kingston doesn’t front trying to pose as a thug or show off his street cred, instead, like any teenager, he chases after beautiful girls and vents about… Read more »



Wild Style The Sampler

Hmm. Like a child who has been through high-school, four years of college and about three years in the work force. That’s how long it’s been since seminal Hip-Hop film, Wild Style, first hit the film market. 25 years to be exact. To commemorate this glorious quarter of a century, Charlie Ahearn, the film’s director,… Read more »



Ayatollah: Louder

Let’s face it; an instrumental album is a tough release to sell; no words, no verses, no hooks. Just beats. And with the release of Louder (Nature Sounds), producer Ayatollah is now on his third instrumental release. One’s undoubtedly heard his sound: just check Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty” from 1999’s Black on Both Sides… Read more »