Reviews / Music


Pride (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Pride (Film)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Omar Mazariego Whoever tried to tell Jim Ellis that black people don’t swim must’ve not known that their words were falling on deaf ears. Pride (Lions Gate Films) is the true story of former competitive swimmer Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard) who takes on a city job… Read more »



Ridin’ High

Artist: 8Ball & MJGTitle: Ridin’ HighRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Adam Thomas How would one explore the Memphis Hip-Hop sound? Well, one of the first acts that come to mind is 8Ball & MJG. They have been dropping their signature sound since 1993 with their debut Comin’ Out Hard. Now after their longest span between… Read more »



Gutterfly: The Original Soundtrack

Artist: LifesavasTitle: Gutterfly: The Original SoundtrackRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Felipe Delerme Typically, when a music album title contains the words, “The Original Soundtrack,” there is an accompanying movie, of which the music was either used for, or in the least inspired by. In the case of Gutterfly: The Original Soundtrack (Quannum), the sophomore album of… Read more »



Hated On Mostly

Artist: Crime MobTitle: Hated On MostlyRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine As Lil’ Jon reportedly is incorporating Rock music into his music, it may fall on Crime Mob to uphold the Crunk party that they helped kick off in 2004. The co-ed quintet went from teenagers to 20-somethings since their last album, and Hated on Mostly… Read more »



Abandoned Language

Artist: dälekTitle: Abandoned LanguageRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Michelle Cavanaugh It’s hard to believe that dälek has been around for almost two decades. Carrying the name of extraterrestrial mutants from the British science fiction show Doctor Who, you think you would have heard of them sooner. However, there bizarre sounds might leave listeners skeptical. Abandoned… Read more »



Total Chaos (Book)

Artist: Book ReviewTitle: Total Chaos (Book)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana There are people out there who are as expert on the subject of Hip-Hop as Bubba, Forrest Gump’s homie, is on shrimp. Jeff Chang is one of them. He serves as the editor of Total Chaos The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop (Basic Civitas… Read more »



The Scope Of Things

Artist: Move.meantTitle: The Scope Of ThingsRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman Nowadays when heads listen to an album, they’re probably not going to mind hearing a feel good joint here and there. But the reception may not be as welcoming to an album entirely comprised of upbeat material. On its full length debut, L.A. trio… Read more »



The Most Underrated

Artist: DomingoTitle: The Most UnderratedRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill Zimmerman After more than a decade of making beats for a variety of artists including Big Pun, Fat Joe, Masta Ace and KRS-One, and getting no mainstream recognition, Brooklyn producer Domingo puts his skills at the forefront. On the The Most Underrated (Latchkey) the NYC… Read more »



300 (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: 300 (Film)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson “This is madness!” “This! Is! SPAAAARTA!” [Black dude gets kicked down a well.] And so begins 300 (Warner Bros.), a cinematic adaptation of Frank Miller’s dramatization of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. King of male-dominated, warrior culture Sparta Leonidas (Gerard Butler) defies the… Read more »



Ruff Draft

Artist: J DillaTitle: Ruff DraftRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton A musician’s death will inevitably cause debate over their unreleased work. The often incomplete music no longer has the artist to guide its exposure to the public, leaving record labels in the difficult position of faithfully carrying on the artist’s legacy while still releasing something… Read more »



Popular Demand

Artist: Black MilkTitle: Popular DemandRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne While most of the spotlight shines on the next big thing from the South, the East and the West, the Midwest has always quietly but consistently cranked out its share of potential stars. Next up, reppin’ the Motor City, is Black Milk with Popular… Read more »



As The Tables Turn (DVD)

Artist: Rob SwiftTitle: As The Tables Turn (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine Along with DJ Q-Bert, Rob Swift is the face and hands of turntablism. The Jackson Heights, Queens native has evolved from Akinyele’s DJ to the spokesman of the X-Ecutioners to a true advocate of the turntable’s capability as a musical instrument. As the… Read more »



Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Artist: ConsequenceTitle: Don’t Quit Your Day JobRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Aqua Consequence rhymes better than Kanye West. But we all know actual lyrical talent is only one aspect of rap success. On his very late debut, Don’t Quit Your Day Job (G.O.O.D./Columbia), the former A Tribe Called Quest affiliate asserts he indeed has a… Read more »



Serve & Collect

Artist: Boss Hogg OutlawzTitle: Serve & CollectRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton Taking a break from his solo career on Star Trak/Geffen, Houston’s Slim Thug has reunited with his Boss Hogg Outlawz crew for Serve & Collect (Koch). A major label artist quietly releasing a group project might make some expect a glorified mixtape, but… Read more »



Game: Chronicles Of The Street (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Game: Chronicles Of The Street (DVD)Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Maiya Norton Any documentary starring “hustlers, ballers and gangsters” sprinkled with a cameo from Pimpin’ Ken and Big Slick has the potential to be really fly or flop. The Shoot II Films Production, Game: Chronicles of the Street (Shoot II Films) weaves… Read more »



Black Snake Moan (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Black Snake Moan (Film)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson How do you follow an Oscar-nominated film about a pimp turned rapper? Why you make a film, Black Snake Moan (Paramount Classics) about a white girl chained up by a black man in the South, of course… Beyond this salacious setup-and the playfully… Read more »



Street Fame

Artist: Twisted BlackTitle: Street FameRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine Dallas’ rap prospects looked pretty good at the end of 2006. Big Tuck signed a multi-million dollar deal with Universal while underground veteran Twisted Black caught the attention of TVT Records. Shortly thereafter, Black caught a bad one, and it appears as though Street Fame (TVT)… Read more »



Renaissance Child

Artist: Hell RazahTitle: Renaissance ChildRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Adam Thomas What do you get when you mix an experienced street sound with a political voice? Hip-Hop’s version of the political pundit, and contrary to what the mainstream would tell you, there are many that use their music to get their thoughts out about the… Read more »



Cocaine Cowboys (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Cocaine Cowboys (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Apparently, the real Noriega owes Rick Ross a hundred favors. But while we determine whether or not the Miami rapper’s lyrics are fictitious or not, let’s direct our attention to the rap Noreaga who personally endorsed the film Cocaine Cowboys (Magnolia Enterainment) in a… Read more »



And Justus For All

Artist: Little Brother/Mick BoogieTitle: And Justus For AllRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios When you take into heavy consideration the great make up of Little Brother, you notice that the math just doesn’t quite add up. As the heirs to the Native Tongue dynasty, the North Carolina troop has dropped plenty of dope material… Read more »




Artist: Jill ScottTitle: CollaborationsRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Aja In an effort to ward off zealots, the release of the compilation Collaborations (Hidden Beach) is sure to appease the hankerings of even the most passionate Jill Scott fans. As a bona fide collection of some of Jill’s most eclectic works, the trauma of having to purchase… Read more »



Lionheart: Tussle with the Beast

Artist: Joe Buddha Presents: KlashnekoffTitle: Lionheart: Tussle with the BeastRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Anna NathansonKlashnekoff is widely regarded as one of England’s most talented lyricists, and this, his second album to date, has a long time in the making, coming three years after his debut. Originally scheduled for 2006 release, the agonising wait for UK… Read more »



Atlantis: Hymns for Disco

Artist: K-OsTitle: Atlantis: Hymns for DiscoRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Rodney Dugue His name is K-OS (Knowledge of Self) and he raps frighteningly well with a conscience cadence and a demagogue’s virtue. That’s all you should care to know. Really. It’s a shame everything is closeted and cost-effective; he’s fluffily content with cheap ambition because… Read more »




Artist: Gabriel TeodrosTitle: LoveworkRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jason NewmanPerhaps the most telling line from Seattle emcee Gabriel Teodros’ Lovework (Massline) comes from “In This Together,” when he rhymes “There’s so many raps labeled as conscious out there/A label people get no matter what they share.” After a few listens all the way through, it’s… Read more »



Bastards Of The Party (Film)

Artist: Film ReviewTitle: Bastards Of The Party (Film)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Slav Kandyba Rare is a documentary made by someone it is actually about–the biggest exception being celebrity sex tapes, of course. It is a whole other matter if the film is any good at all, and in fact, documentaries frequently fall short of… Read more »



Wu-Tang Clan & Friends: Unreleased

Artist: MathematicsTitle: Wu-Tang Clan & Friends: UnreleasedRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Felipe Delerme Wu-Tang Forever once spoke to the invincibility of one of the premier artist collectives in Hip-Hop, but is now little more than an album title. While there is no erasing history, outside of critical darling Ghostface, the Wu aesthetic continues to fade…. Read more »




Artist: Clan DestinedTitle: ABBRACADAMN!!!Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Adam Thomas North Carolina has been abuzz on the underground scene for a long time. The most prominent example would be Little Brother, which dropped a indie classic in 2002’s The Listening. Now, five years later, there is a group that is trying to match that success. Known… Read more »


The Best Of N.W.A

Artist: N.W.ATitle: The Best Of N.W.ARating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana A quick search on will reveal that an N.W.A greatest hits CD has been done over a decade ago. So, to what do we owe this sudden Priority release? Dre is still gainfully employed off his Pro Tools. Cube is still living fruitfully… Read more »



Tru York (Mixtape)

Artist: Tru Life/J-LoveTitle: Tru York (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Rodney Dugue This is a pretty cute mixtape, cover and all. Well, that’s if lime-green hyper-extended male thongs are your type of thing. Sure, the added linen strips and the blonde wig and any horrifically placed couture alignment make for a gussied premium whore. But,… Read more »



Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes (Film)

Artist: Documentary ReviewTitle: Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes (Film)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Slav Kandyba If politics has Michael Moore, then Hip-Hop-excuse me, commercial rap-has Byron Hurt. There’s hardly a doubt that the filmmaker and former college athlete had good intentions when he set out to make Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a documentary headed… Read more »



Lo Down & Dirty

Artist: Thirstin Howl 3rd & Rack-LoTitle: Lo Down & DirtyRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine Thirstin Howl III reigned as one of the fiercest punchline rappers of the late ’90s, culminating with his Eminem collaboration “Watch Deez.” In the last five years, Thirstin’s albums have been less memorable, though released in plenty. Now signed to… Read more »



Born Identity

Artist: High PriestTitle: Born IdentityRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Michelle Cavanaugh High Priest’s stint with the East Coast group Antipop Consortium (APC) was a strangely brewed concoction of Hip-Hop, jazz, and electronica. APC released one album and toured with DJ Shadow and Radiohead before disbanding in the early 00’s. Priest and fellow ex-Antipop member M. Sayyid… Read more »



Afro Samurai – The Soundtrack

Artist: RZATitle: Afro Samurai – The SoundtrackRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Serge Fleury For over a decade now the RZA has fascinated us with his unique production style. Whether it was Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Ghostface’s Ironman, to GZA’s Liquid Swords, his signature sound was always front and center. While the Clan was… Read more »



Welcome To Durham (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Welcome To Durham (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jay Peregrine Produced by the Butta Team, a group of Durham music and entertainment producers, Welcome to Durham, introduces the spirit of Durham, North Carolina to the world. The film does not attempt to solely depict how rough life is in Durham is but rather… Read more »



Jesus Price Supastar

Artist: Sean PriceTitle: Jesus Price SupastarRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jake Paine For a solo debut album on a shoestring budget and with a name-change, Sean Price’s Monkey Barz was the Cinderella story of 2005. Critics championed the effort as Price became the sleeper hit of Duck Down’s “triple-threat” that included Smif-N-Wessun and Buckshot. A year… Read more »



Jamie Foxx: Undpredictable Tour (Concert)

Artist: Concert ReviewTitle: Jamie Foxx: Undpredictable Tour (Concert)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Latifah Muhammad Jamie Foxx took a break from the movie business to entertain in the same fashion he first became famous: on the stage. Boldly mixing, comedy with his singing performance, the “Unpredictable Tour” show at Madison Square Garden on January 22nd, 2007… Read more »



It Can Happen to Anyone

Artist: Elisabeth WithersTitle: It Can Happen to AnyoneRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Chris Richburg Listening to Elisabeth Withers’ debut album, It Could Happen to Anyone (Blue Note Records), it’s pretty obvious: this is some grown folks’ R&B. That could be expected though, considering she earned a Tony Award nomination for her role as Shug Avery… Read more »



Skateboards 2 Scrapers

Artist: The PackTitle: Skateboards 2 ScrapersRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Ms. Hite The New West is on the brink of resurrection and the Bay Area is the main driving force behind all the noise. In the sticky green city of Berkley there were four teens creepin’ on a come up when veteran rapper and Bay… Read more »



Strictly The Best: Vol. 35 & 36

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Strictly The Best: Vol. 35 & 36Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bella Kiz Distributed at the turn of each New Year, Strictly the Best, VP Records’ infamous reggae compilation is back and has hit 2007 with a double-disc offering in Strictly The Best Vol. 35 & 36 (VP/Universal). Like previous releases, both… Read more »




Artist: Brian McKnightTitle: TenRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Nia B Brian McKnight’s album titled Ten (Warner Bros.) marks his latest and tenth effort to show R&B fans that his vocal talents and versatility continue to get better with time. Fifteen years into the industry and three label deals later, Brian has landed on Warner Brothers Records…. Read more »



Stones Throw: Ten Years

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Stones Throw: Ten YearsRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman In 1996, Hip-Hop was in the throes of a revolution. The Golden Age, while still fresh in people’s heads, was over. A couple of years earlier, Nas, Biggie and Dr. Dre released blistering debuts, but now, the bling-hop era was slowly on its… Read more »



Hyphy Hitz

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Hyphy HitzRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Melanie J. Cornish One thing that can be said for TVT Records is that they are a label always willing to take a chance. Having been the driving force between the Crunk epidemic that infiltrated the nation in the early stages of the new millennium; they are… Read more »



Operation Awareness (Mixtape)

Artist: The Ranjahz/DJ RerokTitle: Operation Awareness (Mixtape)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine Between Bleek and Beans, it was The Ranjahz that rose under Jay-Z’s wing on Hard Knock Life, Vol. 2, The Streets is Watching, and DJ Clue’s Backstage album. However, by the time the Crown Heights, Brooklyn duo released their album, they had defected from… Read more »



The Best Kept Secret

Artist: Ultramagnetic MC’sTitle: The Best Kept SecretRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Serge Fleury For the eighties babies still in tune with their Hip-Hop roots, The Ultramagnetic MC’s are not an unfamiliar name. The legendary foursome that brought us classics like “Traveling at the Speed” of Thought,” “Mentally Mad,” and “Watch Me Now” back in Hip-Hop’s… Read more »




Artist: Talib Kweli & MadlibTitle: LiberationRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Did you see Talib Kweli on that episode of MTV’s Wild N Out? When it came down to the Wildstyle segment, my man roasted every single red team member, stinging them with sharp battle couplets. It was fair and unfair at the same time…. Read more »



Back By Thug Demand

Artist: Trick DaddyTitle: Back By Thug DemandRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Slav Kandyba While it is generally not a good idea to judge a book by its cover, there’s no better way to judge Trick Daddy’s seventh album than by its title. Back by Thug Demand has all the musical and topical ingredients that will please… Read more »



The Professional, Vol. 3

Artist: DJ Clue?Title: The Professional, Vol. 3Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Claudio Cabrera “The Professional” is DJ Clue?, who for the last decade has kept his faithful salivating on street corners, or near speakers, to hear what’s dropping next, early. Remember when Clue? broke the disses between Beanie and Jada? Jay and Nas? If it… Read more »




Artist: VoiceTitle: GumboRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli For years, the male-dominated rap world has emphasized the scarcity of talented female MC’s that could sustain “flow-tation” as they swim the mainstream. Previously, our options were sex, sex, and Lauryn Hill. Now, we have sex and sex. Of course, there is an army of independent… Read more »



True Magic

Artist: Mos DefTitle: True MagicRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine If KRS-One hadn’t taken it first, Mos Def deserves to title an album The Sneak Attack. Following The New Danger’s sparse at best promotional campaign, Mos Def snuck into the last days of 2006 with the quietly released True Magic (Geffen). Released with no inserts or… Read more »



Jungle Grooves – Greatest James Brown Samples, Ever

Artist: James BrownTitle: Jungle Grooves – Greatest James Brown Samples, EverRating: 5 StarsReviewed by: Alvin “Aqua” Blanco Pick the greatest usage of James Brown songs for Hip-Hop samples? Impossible. We’re not even going to play ourselves and go that route. Well, it can’t hurt to at least try. 40,000 plus songs and you’d be hard… Read more »



Mixtape Messiah 2 (Mixtape)

Artist: ChamillionaireTitle: Mixtape Messiah 2 (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Felipe Delerme If the best revenge is living well, then hell hath no fury like a Chamillionaire scorned. Coming off of a platinum album, a slew of award nominations, record ringtone sales, a hit single about, of all things, racial profiling, and a landmark of pop-culture… Read more »



The Price Of Fame

Artist: Bow WowTitle: The Price Of FameRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Latifah Muhammad Barely legal but already talking like he’s been around for years, Bow Wow’s fifth album, The Price of Fame (Sony/Columbia) is a step in the right direction from bubble gum sweet rap lyrics to the world of pending adulthood . The self-proclaimed… Read more »