Reviews / Music


Rock The Bells: Randall’s Island, NY—7.27.2007

When Public Enemy brought out a special guest at last weekend’s Rock The Bells festival in New York, it wasn’t a like-minded veteran rapper or up-and-coming protégé that surprised the crowd. It was Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, partially reuniting the two groups on their classic “Bring the Noise” collaboration. A highlight from PE’s theatrical (S1Ws… Read more »



Real Dads Stand Up!

Baby fathers exhale, finally. Alicia M. Crowe’s book Real Dads Stand Up! (Blue Peacock Press) serves as a reference guide to get through all the child support payments, the supervised visitations, and custody battles that characterize the “baby mama drama.” As a deputy attorney with a law degree from Howard University, Crowe has seen her… Read more »



Sean Price: Master P [Mixtape]

Cats aren’t the only animals that get nine lives.  For an MC that came out in the underground scene in the mid-1990’s to still be garnering favorable attention is hard to accomplish.  Somehow, someway, Sean Price is doing it.  His last effort Jesus Price Superstar made an impression through crazy lyrics and a consistent underground… Read more »



Rugged Intellect: Renaissance Music

For 2007, it’s in vogue to praise the ‘90s Hip-Hop movement, but cater to the radio with albums. A Canadian MC with a deep appreciation for that purebred Hip-Hop of yesteryear, Rugged Intellect’s Renaissance Music: The Introduction (Expertism) lives up to its name, and may kick through walls and borders like Toddy Tee’s batterram. Through… Read more »



Yesterday’s New Quintet: Yesterday’s Universe

Yesterday’s Universe (Stones Throw) by Yesterday’s New Quintet, an experimental/jazz collective headed by underground uber-producer Madlib, is a record that offers both a musical glimpse into the future and also a glance into the past. With this album, Madlib has compiled appealing insturmental tracks by the various artists and groups that work together under the… Read more »



Common: Finding Forever

Common has always been anything but a run of the mill emcee. The Chi-Town lyrical kingpin has long possessed a special brand of flow that has granted him champion MC status in the eyes of anyone from kids who chill on a quad or hug the block, to grown ups leading boardroom conferences or amassing… Read more »



Chamillionaire: Mixtape Messiah 3

Let’s be frank here, Hip-Hop has been in a slump. The music during the first half of 2007 has been somewhat lackluster, because most releases, especially mainstream offerings, generally haven’t been worth sitting through. Enter, Chamillionaire who has just released his Mixtape Messiah 3 mixtape.  Even though the Houston native son’s hiatus hasn’t been long… Read more »



Talib Kweli: Booking Agent

On his seminal hit “Get By,” Talib Kweli rhymed that he could “paint a picture with the pen like Norman Mailer.” It’s no coincidence that the Brooklyn-born MC name-checked the 84 year-old novelist and playwright. Anybody that knows Kweli recognizes that he has surrounded himself with literature and art— including his burgeoning library in his… Read more »



Chromeo: Fancy Footwork

In a world where live instrumentation continuously fights for its old soul, Chromeo could be perceived as the antithesis to the struggle. Then again, on their synth-heavy follow-up Fancy Footwork (Vice), Chromeo wears their millennium shoes to tap on an ’80s dancefloor…in a ’70s club. Three years ago, the Canadian duo—P-Thugg and Dave 1—strutted their… Read more »



Have You Met Miss Jones?

Giving new meaning to exposing and entertaining (also the tag line of her popular morning show), controversial radio show host Miss Jones (nee Tarsha Jones) makes her literary debut with her autobiographical memoir Have You Met Miss Jones? (One World/Ballantine ). The tome is a personal and revealing look into the life of the outspoken… Read more »



Raheem Jamal: Boombox

Remember those days when chillin’ in the park and vibing to music was all you lived for? Boston-native, Raheem Jamal brings everyone back to those laid back summer days with feel good music blasting from his Boombox (Brick/Traffic). Jamal’s lyricism fills Boombox with all the essentials: women, love, money, weed and social change.As Jamal brings… Read more »



Peanut Butter Wolf Presents…: Chrome Children, Vol. 2

Just one full listen to Peanut Butter Wolf Presents…Chrome Children, Vol. 2 (Stones Throw) and you have to wonder, is there anything Stones Throw can’t do? The cult-status indie label continuously cranks out one quality record after another, reminiscent of Rawkus’ 1990s reign, except with digital savvy. During this era of uncertainty about the direction… Read more »



Mark Ronson: Version

A person whose taste in music is truly diverse is a rare find. Even more atypical is a person who has a knack to put together compilations that, while sundry, leave a sound connected to them. The London born, New York bred Mark Ronson is of that uncommon elk. The DJ turned producer has complied… Read more »



Tum Tum: Eat Or Get Ate

After a blockbuster signing-bonus, 2006 watched Big Tuck tucker out. After Universal’s eight-figure frontier into Dallas rap failed to go gold, it’s remarkable that the executives would green-light Tum Tum’s Eat or Get Ate (T-Town/Universal Republic) so quickly. But like the release’s title suggests about street culture, Tum Tum’s marketability and talent may decide the… Read more »



Check The Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies

Music junkies, rap historians, and Hip-Hop fanatics lend me your ears. Brian Coleman has made digging for exclusive threads of info that much easier with his newest book Check The Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies (Villard Books/Random House). Coleman is a proud member of Hip-Hop’s baby-boomers repping the Golden Age (1988-1996) to the fullest…. Read more »



Huey: Notebook Paper

Huey comes out barking on the intro to his album, Notebook Paper (Jive Records), promising to be different and attempting to stray away from the rapper stereotype. Unfortunately, the St. Louis representative lacks in the lyrical department. However, thanks to a great production team, Notebook Paper is actually a bearable listen. Tight beats and unoriginal… Read more »



Shop Boyz: Rockstar Mentality

You have to give Da Shop Boyz credit where it’s due.  The Atlanta-based rookies’ first single, “Party Like a Rockstar” is right behind Rihanna’s  #1 “Umbrella” on the Billboard charts and dubbed the most played rap song in the U.S. according to Radio & Records. This club hit has the masses screaming, “t-t-t-totally dude” while… Read more »



Pharoahe Monch: Desire

Who could ever forget “Simon Says”?  The Godzilla-sampling anthem was arguably the biggest hit of Pharoahe Monch’s career but to remember him solely for this commercial success would be doing a great disservice to one of the most unique lyricists to emerge in Hip-Hop. Let’s not forget about his scene-stealing appearances on the Rawkus Soundbombing… Read more »



Rasheeda: Dat Type Of Gurl

Georgia peach Rasheeda offers a slew of club heaters in her latest Dat Type of Gurl (D-Lo Entertainment/Imperial/EMI). Rasheeda is not the ‘kinda gurl” as she oozes out in her first club friendly song, “Type of Gurl” to “fool with them boys living check to check.” The battle rages on about femcees coming across as… Read more »



Third Coast: Outkast, Timbaland, and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing

For every major movement in Hip-Hop, there is an equipped journalist already documenting its evolution. With regards to the Southern aesthetic, Roni Sarig’s Third Coast:: Outkast, Timbaland, and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing (Da Capo Press) serves as a precise account of Southern Hip-Hop’s rise and explosion into the mainstream. Sarig, who has written… Read more »



DJ Khaled: We The Best

What is DJ Khaled the best at? Maybe the question, like his new album’s title, We The Best (Terror Squad/Koch), is best left intentionally vague to keep his options open. What is definitive is that the hyperbolic DJ and producer has enough pull to put together a star studded line up of guest rappers for… Read more »