Reviews / Music


The Impossible Mission, Pt. 1

Artist: De La SoulTitle: The Impossible Mission, Pt. 1Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine Two years after the critically acclaimed, but commercial snoozed, The Grind Date, De La Soul has been laying low. They grabbed a Grammy with The Gorillaz for “Feel Good Inc,” but have apparently defected from Sanctuary Records as “Live @ The Dugout… Read more »



Dreamgirls (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Dreamgirls (Film)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson My name is Edwardo and I’m a “Dreamgirls”-aholic. Allow me to introduce you to the movie of the year–and now one of my favorite movies of all time. Scooped out of obscurity after a local Detroit talent show by car dealer turned promoter Curtis… Read more »



Place Your Bets

Artist: Blak JakTitle: Place Your BetsRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Adam Thomas Blak Jak, a rapper from Decatur GA, drops his debut, Place Your Bets (Universal/Republic), an interesting album that shows a bit of everything from the young rapper. From his tough childhood, to his dealings in the trap, you get an interesting introduction to… Read more »



Me, Myself & I

Artist: Fat JoeTitle: Me, Myself & IRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Dr. Zero Many hip-hop veterans are typically acknowledged by Hip-Hop heads for contributing one element to the art or their entire career regardless of the fan’s age. Rakim is known by many as the “God MC,” KRS-One as “The Teacha” and one of the most… Read more »



Chemically Imbalanced

Artist: Ying Yang TwinsTitle: Chemically ImbalancedRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Rodney Dugue The Ying Yang Twins have lived, worked, and slept in the club for the past few years, specializing in crafting rambunctious four minute sex manuals. It’s not just a party, but a bacchanalian worship of women’s assets (and more “Dangerously,” the effects of… Read more »



Nas @ Nokia Theater (Concert Review)

Artist: NasTitle: Nas @ Nokia Theater (Concert Review)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: odeisel Here Lies Hip-Hop August 11, 1973-??? The line stretched around the block at the Nokia Theatre to see the funeral procession. Following a furious set of old school tunes by DJ Cut, L.E.S. took over and brought out the Master of Ceremonies,… Read more »



Reflections (A Retrospective)

Artist: Mary J. BligeTitle: Reflections (A Retrospective)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes Music critics, reviewers, braniacs with pens, a thesaurus and opinions; all at times forget two basic ingredients, soul and passion. Mary J. Blige a once critically shunned, unpolished ghetto siren emanating from 1992’s What’s the 411, has been a beacon of truth… Read more »



Blacksmith: The Movement (Mixtape)

Artist: Talib Kweli Presents…Title: Blacksmith: The Movement (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Serge Fleury Talib Kweli is one of those rare MC’s; the kind that feeds you food for thought, and doesn’t leave a nasty after taste in your mouth. Whether he’s talking about children being forced to work in Africa’s diamond mines or corrupt politicians… Read more »



A Dipset Xmas

Artist: Jim JonesTitle: A Dipset XmasRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill Zimmerman At first it appears that A Dipset Xmas may be a fun ride. The cover features a Santa hat draped over the Diplomats’ logo, the disc is emblazoned with a Christmas tree capped with the same emblem, and best of all, the liner… Read more »



The Re-Up

Artist: Eminem Presents…Title: The Re-UpRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Let’s just give Eminem the benefit of the doubt and say that he is working with a sketchy connect, because The Re-Up (Interscope) did not reload enough. If you’re tired of South American cocaine analogies, here is the situation bluntly. Eminem is easily an… Read more »



No Talent Required (Mixtape)

Artist: DJ PremierTitle: No Talent Required (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Felipe Delerme A Hip-Hop legend in every sense of the word, DJ Premier has contributed as much to defining the New York sound as anyone. Having produced for, “Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas,” amongst countless others, Premier is sought out by those looking for the… Read more »



Hip Hop Is Dead

Artist: NasTitle: Hip Hop Is DeadRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: AJ FreshDue to the current trend of proclaiming Hip-Hop’s demise, Nas’ eighth album Hip Hop Is Dead (Def Jam), is pretty timely. If anything, the controversial title could make it a critical component to the success and ongoing longevity of true Hip-Hop music-if it’s any good…. Read more »



Time Is Money

Artist: Styles PTitle: Time Is MoneyRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Andrew Kameka Few albums are as aptly or unfortunately titled as Styles P’s <i?Time Is Money (Ruff Ryders/Interscope). Four years since the release of his gold-selling solo debut, A Gangster & A Gentleman, Styles has seen much of his shelf-life and earning potential waste away. The… Read more »



The Evolution

Artist: CiaraTitle: The EvolutionRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton A few summers ago, it seemed like the FCC would revoke a radio station’s license unless they played Usher’s “Yeah’ at least twice an hour. The effects of the song’s domination are still felt today with an abundance of singles that infuse R&B with the sensibilities… Read more »



Alter Ego

Artist: Black-Ty/TyreseTitle: Alter EgoRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Maiya Norton In a climate where the musically jaded are chanting Hip-Hop is dead, testing the rap waters is probably daunting for Tyrese. In the same window he unveils his emcee skills, Nas, The Game, Jay-Z and other notables have been the catalyst to the resurgence of… Read more »



The Inspiration

Artist: Young JeezyTitle: The InspirationRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton With so much complaining about Hip-Hop going corporate, a self-made man like Young Jeezy is a refreshing alternative. In less than two years, he’s become a top artist on a top label, and while his rhyme skills are the subject of heavy debate, you can’t… Read more »



More Fish

Artist: Ghostface KillahTitle: More FishRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios Ghostface Killah must love his craft. Starks dropped one of the best albums of ’06 with Fishscale but the sizeable sales numbers to match his rep still elude him. Instead of going into hibernation after taking that respectable “L”, Tone is back in… Read more »



Bred 2 Die Born 2 Live

Artist: Lil ScrappyTitle: Bred 2 Die Born 2 LiveRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Latifah Muhammad What’s the recipe for an album that’s sure to have sick enough beats that the lack of lyrical range gets lost in the bass? Simple, ask Lil Jon and 50 Cent to executive produce. You may not remember his last album,… Read more »



10th Annual Mixtape Awards

Artist: Award Show ReviewTitle: 10th Annual Mixtape AwardsRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow Lackluster. That just about sums up the 10th Annual Mixtape Awards that went down last night (Thursday, November 7) at Harlem, NY’s Apollo Theater. No disrespect to the great Orpheus “Just-O” Faison (RIP), founder of the award show. But, unfortunately, rather… Read more »



Pac’s Life

Artist: 2PacTitle: Pac’s LifeRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: KeiSaundra “K Sincere” Henderson While Nas is proclaiming Hip-Hop is dead, he may be speaking literally. While there are emcees currently in the business alive and well, the late, great Tupac continues to overshadow those who claim to be “the best in the game,” from the grave…. Read more »



My Name Is Gyptian

Artist: GyptianTitle: My Name Is GyptianRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Metanoya Z. Webb The world came to know him as Gyptian; the 23 year old Rasta bred, St. Andrew’s born, vocalist, whose old-school Lovers Rock sound urgently demanded attention back in 2005 with the release of his conscious tune, “Serious Times.” The song exploded in Jamaica… Read more »



Infamy (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Infamy (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana After watching Infamy (Image Entertainment), you’ll never look at a vandalized wall in the same way again. The Doug Pray directed documentary is an ambitious film which shadows renowned graffiti artists from all walks of the globe who practice various styles. Among them are Toomer… Read more »



The Sweet Escape

Artist: Gwen StefaniTitle: The Sweet EscapeRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton 2004’s Love.Angel.Music.Baby. was intended to be a one-off vanity project by No Doubt front-woman Gwen Stefani, but popular demand prompted her to record The Sweet Escape (Interscope). On her sophomore attempt, the good news and bad news are the same: Escape keeps the hectic… Read more »



Rock The Bells (Concert Review)

Artist: Concert ReviewTitle: Rock The Bells (Concert Review)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana The “Rock The Bells” Tour featuring headliners Raekwon and Redman reached full stride last night in Times Square. Damn, Hip-Hop is thirty-something now, and it showed its maturity last night at the illustrious B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on 42nd Street…. Read more »




Artist: AkonTitle: KonvictedRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Tambra Cherie There is an old saying our grandmothers use to say years ago, “If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it.” Platinum-recording artist Akon must have adopted this concept when recording his sophomore album, Konvicted (SRC/Universal Motown). With 11 songs written, arranged, and produced by Akon himself,… Read more »



Hell Hath No Fury

Artist: ClipseTitle: Hell Hath No FuryRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios The dope dealer persona has always had its place in Hip-Hop. UGK coined the phrase “Riding Dirty,” Jay painted Technicolor style pictures of the ups and down of the game, and B.I.G. broke down the ten rules of success. Since their 2002… Read more »



Déjà Vu (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Déjà Vu (Film)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson If Scorsese has DiCaprio and Soderbergh has Clooney, then Scott has Washington. Having cranked out blockbuster thriller upon blockbuster thriller in Crimson Tide andMan on Fire, here comes the latest must-see Tony Scott company players, pulse-pumping production featuring yet another Denzel lone-wolf character: Déjà… Read more »



Death Before Dishonor (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Death Before Dishonor (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Melanie J. Cornish With street DVDs becoming as mass produced as mixtapes, occasionally one will break through to tell a story worthy of our attention and of our money. Death Before Dishonor (Ruff Nation Films) is released in the eye of the stop snitching hurricane…. Read more »



The Day All Hell Broke Loose, Vol. 3

Artist: Swishahouse Presents…Title: The Day All Hell Broke Loose, Vol. 3Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine Michael “5000” Watts and Swishahouse discovered Mike Jones, Paul Wall, and Slim Thug. However, with only Paul still amicable with the label, their motives and staying-power is questionable. In a quiet year for Houston releases, Swishahouse unveiled their bright… Read more »



Point Of No Return

Artist: ShareefaTitle: Point Of No ReturnRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Starrene Rhett Shareefa sings with the passion of a talented inmate who wants to get free to pursue her dreams of stardom. That dream has become a reality for Disturbing Tha Peace’s newest crooner. Her debut Point of No Return (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam) takes… Read more »



Tha Blue Carpet Treatment

Artist: Snoop DoggTitle: Tha Blue Carpet TreatmentRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine In 2004, Snoop Dogg scored his biggest hit in the post riding shotgun with Dr. Dre years with The Neptunes-assisted “Drop it Like it’s Hot”. But while R&G was aimed at the charts with Southern and East Coast-seasoned production, Snoop’s Tha Blue Carpet Treatment… Read more »



Save The Last Dance 2

Artist: Original SoundtrackTitle: Save The Last Dance 2Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton Back in the 90s, some of the best Hip-Hop and R&B came from film soundtracks. Major label artists weren’t releasing albums and mixtapes every 8 months, so soundtracks were a great way to stay on the scene. Remember Above the Rim and… Read more »



Capital Punishment (CLASSIC REVIEW)

Artist: Big PunTitle: Capital Punishment (CLASSIC REVIEW)Rating: 5 StarsReviewed by: Pitbull Let’s face the facts, there will never be another Big Pun. The Bronx bomber went in so hard (pause), it will be almost impossible to replicate his ill combination of innate raw lyricism and loveable playboy charisma. On his debut Capital Punishment, he displayed… Read more »



SmashTime Radio: Shade 45 Anniversary Edition

Artist: Clinton Sparks & EminemTitle: SmashTime Radio: Shade 45 Anniversary EditionRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: KeiSaundra “K.Sincere” Henderson The definition of a mixtape at times requires that there be several artist who have come together to help a DJ compile music assisted by mixing and sampling of previously recorded tracks. Clinton Sparks and Eminem’s SmashTime Radio:… Read more »



The Desired Effect

Artist: Moka OnlyTitle: The Desired EffectRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Slav Kandyba The NBA may have pulled out of Vancouver, but not even a sour situation with a major can stop the city’s own Moka Only. The emcee’s recognizable mellow chops have hit U.S. eardrums on a variety of releases and fans accustomed to Moka’s sound… Read more »



Killing Fields

Artist: MolemenTitle: Killing FieldsRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Michael Pollock Chicago Hip-Hop is in the middle of everything, and that means sedimentary influence: New York boom-bap, L.A. swagger, Southern drawl; it’s all around, all for the taking. It reached a new high in 2005, with Common (Be) and Kanye West (Late Registration) putting out groundbreaking albums… Read more »



Get Dirty Radio

Artist: A.G.Title: Get Dirty RadioRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Slav Kandyba When a veteran rapper out of the South Bronx relocates to the Bay for a minute to do an album, does he emulate the sound of rappers around him or stay true to his roots? Fortunately for A.G., the Diggin’ in the Crates vet… Read more »



American Me

Artist: CL SmoothTitle: American MeRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Kye Stephenson “I reminisce for a spell, or shall I say think back…” Ahh yes, it’s been over a decade since those words first spilled out over those beautiful horns. And CL Smooth is still here, ready to recapture the successes of past with patented soulful… Read more »



El Mariel

Artist: PitbullTitle: El MarielRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli Anyone who has either read or watched an interview with Pitbull knows that the Miami Cubano is light years wiser than the music he creates. So when an MC who has the ear of the universe releases a record titled El Mariel (TVT), it’s assumed that… Read more »



Doctor’s Advocate

Artist: The GameTitle: Doctor’s AdvocateRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne If adversity were to be personified, its daunting presence would stand face-to-face with a weary Jayceon Taylor. Compton’s own has been through it all in the past year: label defections, family turmoil, and intense musical feuds. All as the media watched and noted. Fanning… Read more »



Hip Hop Is Dead PREVIEW

Artist: NasTitle: Hip Hop Is Dead PREVIEWRating: 5 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow<font face="verdana" size="2" Again, that is not the rating, but most of y’all won’t bother even reading this line so at least wipe the foam from the side of your rabid mouths. Last night (Thursday, November 9th), was strategically inside New York City’s… Read more »



Hustler’s P.O.M.E.

Artist: Jim JonesTitle: Hustler’s P.O.M.E.Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Maiya Norton With street credibility, a distinguished Uptown swagger and a hit single in heavy rotation, Jim Jones has little to prove. He will gladly take a white tee or a thermal or a purple label. He will show up to an interview with red eyes… Read more »



Playing With Fire

Artist: Kevin FederlineTitle: Playing With FireRating: 1 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton Some things are so bad that they can be entertaining in an ironic sense, but Kevin Ferderline’s Playing With Fire (Reincarnate) is not in this category. K-Fed’s inexcusably poor attempts at rapping are too bad even to laugh at, let alone ride with…. Read more »



Like Father, Like Son

Artist: Birdman & Lil WayneTitle: Like Father, Like SonRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana In a certain music genre, it is not gangsta to love your father. In fact, it is customary to forsake your pops because, oftentimes, it makes for a quality tune. Now, Birdman and his adopted son, the South’s posterboy Lil Wayne,… Read more »



The Format

Artist: AZTitle: The FormatRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Michael Pollock It means nothing to call AZ a veteran. It’s the wars he’s seen and the aftermaths he’s survived that count, and trigger the double-take every time he releases a new album. Yes, this is the AZ from “Life’s a Bitch.” Yes, the same AZ that… Read more »



I’m Still Livin’

Artist: Z-RoTitle: I’m Still Livin’Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes “I’m 27 but I’m feelin’ 71/I pray so much I feel like I’m kin to the heavenly son.” Immediately on its opening track, the reminiscent to vintage Geto Boys tune “City Streets”, Z-Ro Da Crooked sets a bluesy mono-thematic theme of survival through faith…. Read more »



Someday We’ll All Be Free (Book)

Artist: Kevin PowellTitle: Someday We’ll All Be Free (Book)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana In the rapid blood rush that is American society, very few leaders pause to make sure everyone is informed about the events that define our time. Prominent activist and former Vibe Magazine staff writer, Kevin Powell releases Someday We’ll All Be… Read more »



Everready (The Religion)

Artist: Tech N9neTitle: Everready (The Religion)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine With a style derived from Bay Area and Southern Hip-Hop, it’s geographically convenient that Tech N9ne hails from Kansas City. With a rapid-fire flow, an overpowering personality, and common man subject matter, Tech has spent the last decade touring endlessly, and releasing albums cherished by… Read more »



Money, Power, Respect (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Money, Power, Respect (DVD)Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Maiya Norton When it comes to the drug game there are a million stories to tell. Hood narrators gather around to exchange success and sob stories about the local kingpin, how he got his crown and the cause of his demise. The cliche scenario… Read more »



We Don’t Die, We Multiply: The Robin Harris Story (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: We Don’t Die, We Multiply: The Robin Harris Story (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow Genius too often is only fully appreciated in hindsight. Robin Harris for years mastered his comedic trade underneath Hollywood’s nose and was on the cusp of achieving the mainstream recognition he so deserved. But at the age… Read more »



School Was My Hustle

Artist: Kidz in the HallTitle: School Was My HustleRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman Rookie act Naledge and Double-O have a hell of a lot going for themselves as they’re introduced to the world as Kidz in the Hall-the duo who met in the Ivy League environs of the University of Pennsylvania. Not only are… Read more »



Return From Mecca

Artist: X-ClanTitle: Return From MeccaRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: AJ Fresh On X-Clan’s new album Return From Mecca (Suburban Noize) much is taught and much can be learned. X Clan, the uncompromising pro-black rap group that came onto the Hip-Hop scene with their unique sound of funk and notable lyrics in the early 90’s, continue on… Read more »



Once Again

Artist: John LegendTitle: Once AgainRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Alex Thornton After racking up experience behind the scenes as a songwriter and session musician for some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop and R&B, John Legend debuted as a solo artist with 2004’s breakout hit Get Lifted. Assisted by a co-sign from Kanye West, Legend surprised… Read more »



Use Your Confusion

Artist: JuggaknotsTitle: Use Your ConfusionRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman Say “Juggaknots” to Hip-Hop fans and you’ll be greeted with either blank stares or wide grins. The former can hear the latter incessantly praise emcee Breezly Brewin and producer/brother Buddy Slim’s 1996 underground classic Clear Blue Skies EP. The title track, in which a white… Read more »



As If We Existed

Artist: Sol.illaquists Of SoundTitle: As If We ExistedRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Dr. Zero The phrase “socially conscious Hip-Hop” produces a myriad of different responses. Some fans feel that this is the form of the art that will save it from its current state of complacency and played out themes of materialism, misogyny, and braggadocio…. Read more »