Reviews / Music

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Intellektual Property (Revised)

Artist: Intellekt & Dirty DigitsTitle: Intellektual Property (Revised)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Fruity Loops and a karaoke mic. Now, these are not the semi-archaic production tools that Intellekt & Dirty Digits used to record their debut album Intellektual Property (Revised) (ATF Records), but those two items serve as an easy reminder that good… Read more »

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Here

Artist: NicolayTitle: HereRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Anthony Carr To the average listener, the producer known as Nicolay doesn’t ring a bell, but in the underground his name is affiliated with the critically acclaimed The Foreign Exchange (Connected) project with Little Brother’s own Phonte. For those lost in the mainstream, Nicolay is considered one of the… Read more »

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Respect The Jux (Book Review)

Artist: Book ReviewTitle: Respect The Jux (Book Review)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana “When you party with crooks/You have to learn to respect the jux.” This one endorsing couplet from 50 Cent on Lloyd Banks’ single “Hands Up”, has the streets buzzing about a hood pulitzer for the urban thriller, Respect the Jux (Keeplock Entertainment),… Read more »

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4:21… The Day After

Artist: Method ManTitle: 4:21… The Day AfterRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jamiyl “J Boogie” Samuels When Wu-Tang Clan was on top of the rap world, Method Man could do no wrong. Since he stole the show with his self-title solo on Enter The Wu-Tang, Mef had consistently been one of Hip-Hop’s most recognizable personalities. Mef’s star… Read more »

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The Restless Natives: Dedicated To The Victims Of Hurricane Katrina

Artist: The Restless NativesTitle: The Restless Natives: Dedicated To The Victims Of Hurricane KatrinaRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes Hip-Hop heads grab your backpacks and lace up your Timberlands. The Restless Natives (Dragonsbreath) dedication album to Hurricane Katrina victims has alleviated the bounce. This eclectic group of underground, universally unknown indie artists chose to… Read more »

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The Holocaust

Artist: Blue Sky Black Death Presents…Title: The HolocaustRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Omar Hamza It has been eight years since The Holocaust made his name known as RZA’s accomplice on the first video bearing his namesake from the Bobby Digital album. After a couple of impressive performances on Killarmy’s sophomore disc, he was Wu-Tang’s first round… Read more »

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AmsterJam (Concert)

Artist: Concert ReviewTitle: AmsterJam (Concert)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Makeda Voletta and J. Alise The performances of both Tego Calderon and LL Cool J at the AmsterJam concert on Saturday August 19th at Randall’s Island, New York both represented the continuing fusion between Afro-Caribbean culture and Hip-Hop. Both performers are of African descent; Tego Calderon was… Read more »

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Second Round’s On Me

Artist: Obie TriceTitle: Second Round’s On MeRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes Obie Trice speaks the truth when he asserts, “Nigga I’m violent,” on the aptly titled “Violent”. Or, to be more specific, Second Round’s On Me (Shady/Interscope) serves as a violent soundtrack to his turbulent past and present. Though the Hip-Hop world was eager… Read more »

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As Cruel As School Children

Artist: Gym Class HeroesTitle: As Cruel As School ChildrenRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Andrew Kameka Gym Class Heroes (GCH) gave tradition the middle finger with 2005’s Papercut Chronicles, a bold fusion of Hip-Hop and indie-rock. Sounding like left-leaning cousins of The Roots and Fall Out Boy, Chronicles’ live instrumentation and free-wheeling themes earned the four-man group… Read more »

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American Hunger

Artist: MF GrimmTitle: American HungerRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine MF Grimm has never had much time. His 2002 LP Downfall of Ibliys was recorded in a 24-hour stint before the Manhattan MC was carted off to jail. Shortly upon his release, the veteran writer recorded Digital Tears to mixed reviews in 2004. After two… Read more »

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Game Theory

Artist: The RootsTitle: Game TheoryRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jayson Rodriguez Something’s got to give. Since 1999’s Things Fall Apart, The Roots have tried to balance an extremely tight rope between underground supremacy and commercial viability. But the Philly collective has either veered too far to the left with their sound (the rock-ish hum of… Read more »

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Idlewild

Artist: OutKastTitle: IdlewildRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow Despite what its artwork may say, Idlewild (LaFace/Zomba) damn sure ain’t no OutKast album. And therein lies the rub, though you should have seen it coming. Hip-Hop’s greatest two man collective’s bi-polar affair that was their ultra-successful Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album was supposed to be an… Read more »

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Esthero @ Hiro Ballroom (Concert)

Artist: Concert ReviewTitle: Esthero @ Hiro Ballroom (Concert)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli Esthero possesses this unspoken magic that radiates from her groundbreaking albums to her live sets. The buzz from her previous tour resonated with pleas for an unplugged go ’round. Armed with two acoustic guitars, one mic, a Pekingese (Oboe), and umpteen Jaeger… Read more »

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Idlewild (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Idlewild (Film)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Oyama Caviness “The A’s” dynamic duo strikes again. This time not in record sales, but with their big screen debut Idlewild (Universal Pictures). With the help writer and director Bryan Barner, once again Outkast takes you on a magical ride, this time to Idlewild, GA where… Read more »

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Starr Status

Artist: Kenn StarrTitle: Starr StatusRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Andrew Kameka The Maryland/D.C. metro uh-rea has produced few major Hip-Hop artists. B. Rich repped hard for MD with “Whoa Now”, but not even a Jeffersons sample could move the state on up to the top of the music industry. Kenn Starr is determined to change… Read more »

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You Already Know

Artist: AgallahTitle: You Already KnowRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli Fans of Purple City’s Agallah will be pleasantly surprised by his long awaited release You Already Know (Babygrande). The Brooklyn native crafts an LP that combines the basic elements of the grimy NY underground mixed with the essentials of a commercially viable Hip-Hop record…. Read more »

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Manchester UK Live (DVD)

Artist: Public EnemyTitle: Manchester UK Live (DVD)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Bill Zimmerman From Flavor Flav’s wild outfits and crazy antics, to the S1Ws synchronized marches and fake machine guns, Public Enemy was always a group that took pride in delivering a quality stage show. During Manchester UK Live, filmed Oct. 26, 2003, the crew was… Read more »

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Instrumental Mixtape Vol. 2

Artist: OddiseeTitle: Instrumental Mixtape Vol. 2Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Look yonder across this new world as youngsters are bumping the sweet noise pollution. If Kodak was a time machine, one would picture a brother like Oddisee fifty years ago with a trumpet in his grasp, outshining ni**as off the bandstand with complex… Read more »

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Street Music

Artist: DefariTitle: Street MusicRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne West Coast vet and Likwit emcee Defari comes full circle with a back-to-basics return to the level his fans have been asking for since his debut, Focused Daily. Street Music (ABB Records) is just what the title says, tailor-made not only for Cali blocks but… Read more »

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Snakes On A Plane (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Snakes On A Plane (Film)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnesses the murder of a federal prosecutor at the hands of nefarious gangster Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). FBI agent Neville Flynn (Samuel Jackson) convinces Sean to testify against Eddie in Los Angeles while under federal protection. On the… Read more »

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Notorious C.O.P. (Book)

Artist: Book ReviewTitle: Notorious C.O.P. (Book)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana When the NYPD decides that it’s going place heavy surveillance on a culture of black musicians, to say that an explanation is warranted is a ripe understatement. With the almighty dollar as a wonderful lubricant, retired NYPD detective Derrick Parker teams up with journalist… Read more »

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Black August Benefit (Concert)

Artist: Concert ReviewTitle: Black August Benefit (Concert)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow Who says conscious rappers can’t get down? This year’s 9th Annual Black August Hip-Hop Benefit Concert was held on Sunday, August 13 at New York City’s BB Kings in Times Square. The sold out show proved to be equally entertaining as enlightening. Hosted… Read more »

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Louder Than Fiction

Artist: Rico PabonTitle: Louder Than FictionRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Matt Caputo With Louder Than Fiction (Hard Knock), Rico Pabon’s latest release, the Puerto Rican rapper finds the middle ground between raggaeton and pure Hip-Hop. Born to a family of Salsa musicians in Queens, N.Y., Pabon had stops in The Bronx and Boston before settling down… Read more »

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The Best Of The Roots

Artist: The Roots/J. PeriodTitle: The Best Of The RootsRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne There is arguably no stronger marriage than this: the most dependable group in Hip-Hop and the most dependable mixtape DJ. When they come together, the result is J. Period’s The Best of The Roots (Hosted by Black Thought)—a thumping collection of… Read more »

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Port Of Miami

Artist: Rick RossTitle: Port Of MiamiRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jamiyl “J Boogie” Samuels Rick Ross was already big in Miami before he signed the dotted line of his Slip N’ Slide/Def Jam record deal. Being co-signed by President Carter was the culmination of years of hustle, as conveyed on his smash debut single “Hustlin’”. The… Read more »

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To Love A Hooker

Artist: J-ZoneTitle: To Love A HookerRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine While many folks in the ’06 are in love with strippers, J-Zone’s affection goes to the ladies of the avenue. After producing for Akinyele, Cage, and R.A. the Rugged Man, the Queens gangsta rap aficionado crafted an interlude and instrumental tribute to the hooker… Read more »

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Symptomatic Of A Greater Ill

Artist: Darc MindTitle: Symptomatic Of A Greater IllRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman In a discussion of hip-hop’s “lost classics”, where albums like INI’s Center of Attention and J-Live’s The Best Part occupy a small, but influential, sector of Hip-Hop, Anticon Records thankfully adds another to the canon. Darc Mind’s Symptomatic of a Greater Ill… Read more »

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Made In Brooklyn

Artist: Masta KillaTitle: Made In BrooklynRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Alejandro Mojado You may recall Masta Killa’s introduction on the Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 debut Enter the 36 Chambers. His verse on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin” will go down in history as one of his greatest and as an original member of the W, Masta Killa… Read more »

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The Audience’s Listening

Artist: Cut ChemistTitle: The Audience’s ListeningRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne There’s no clear way to categorize Cut Chemist or his album. DJ and producer for Jurassic 5, DJ at various L.A. venues, turntabalist for Latin band Ozomatli, and of course vinyl collector, this man has spent nearly 20 years busy doing everything but his… Read more »

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Year Of The Dog, Again

Artist: DMXTitle: Year Of The Dog, AgainRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes There is only one word to describe DMX; raw. As a rapper, actor or the man Earl Simmons, the gritty and passionate delivery felt in all his music, seven albums, is birth from the streets. Year of the Dog, Again (Ruff Ryders/Columbia)… Read more »

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Miami Vice (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Miami Vice (Film)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson It’s no secret that Michael Mann’s film adaptation of his time capsule-cool TV show “Miami Vice” was a troubled production (hurricanes, cutting deals with drug lords and gangsters will do that to a movie). It’s also been no secret that the advance screenings… Read more »

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whutduzFMstand4?

Artist: PackFMTitle: whutduzFMstand4?Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Andrew Kameka Subterranean vet answers doubters with well-rounded broadcast. The call for rappers to return to their New York sh*t is growing louder, but not everyone wants to answer. Emerging from Hip-Hop’s Mecca with his own ambitious style is the cocksure (pause) PackFM. The Brooklyn-native avoids the labels placed… Read more »

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Africa Hot!: The Afrofuture Sessions

Artist: Wale OyejideTitle: Africa Hot!: The Afrofuture SessionsRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Dustin Glick Nigerian beatmaker takes listeners on a voyage of afrobeat, Hip-Hop and brokenbeat futuresound. Nigerian-born producer and vocalist Wale Oyejide lets you know just what to expect from his new album with its title: Africahot! The Afrofuture Sessions (Shaman Work). Oyejide has… Read more »

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Napalm

Artist: NashawnTitle: NapalmRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: John Kennedy Although the Bravehearts made their mark on mainstream Hip-Hop with the club favorite “Oochie Wally”, their debut album, Bravehearted, was met with twin thumbs down from critics. But wisely, the group’s lyrical standout, Nashawn (formerly known as Millennium Thug), distanced himself to guest status on the… Read more »

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History In The Making

Artist: J.R. WriterTitle: History In The MakingRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios Whether you hate or love them, you got to admit that The Diplomats are popping. Their hood anthems coupled with their flamboyant lifestyle have made them fans from the block to the burbs. Now that their starting line up of Cam’ron, Juelz… Read more »

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Stand Up

Artist: Superiority ComplexTitle: Stand UpRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne Every now and then in the cluttered jungle of rap, an album comes along that stands out not so much because of its greatness, but because of its individuality. Stand Up> (BRU Records) by Superiority Complex is one of those. This under-the-radar trio hails from… Read more »

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Pimpalation

Artist: Pimp CTitle: PimpalationRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Dr. Zero It is a no-brainer that UGK has solidified themselves as Hip-Hop legends. At a time where East coast lyricism and West coast gangsta rhymes dominated, UGK was there to represent the 3rd Coast along with acts like Scarface, Outkast, 2 Live Crew and other talented… Read more »

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In My Mind

Artist: PharrellTitle: In My MindRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes “It’s a music maker’s album and a fan album. It’s not a huge 10 million sales thing.” Pharrell Williams’ rapping alias Skate Board P is absolutely right. In My Mind (Star Trak/Interscope), Pharrell’s first solo effort is about artistic interpretation. It’s Pharrell’s sole vision… Read more »

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Feedback

Artist: Jurassic 5Title: FeedbackRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli For years, Jurassic 5 has made an art out of providing quality Hip-Hop in layman’s terms. Shunning utter complexity, but still spouting social commentary, the LA collective retains all that is sacred from the old schoolyard ciphers combined with an urban trail mix vibe. While the… Read more »

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Cali Iz Active

Artist: Tha Dogg PoundTitle: Cali Iz ActiveRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: ambers mom West Coast Hip-Hop aint dead. Snoop? Chuuch. Daz? Chuuch. Kurupt? Chuuch. Nate Dogg? Lady of Rage? RBX? Chuuch. Chuuch. Chuuch. Ten years after their multi-platinum selling debut, Dogg Food, solidified their reps, Tha Dogg Pound is back with their latest disc, Cali… Read more »

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A Day In The Fastlife (DVD)

Artist: Jim JonesTitle: A Day In The Fastlife (DVD)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brent Woodie A true hustler can never have enough hustles. But when it comes to Harlem Diplomat Jim Jones, this statement means so much more. Holding posts as a Warner Music Exec, video director, CEO and artist, Jim Jones does not limit… Read more »

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SpreadtheWord

Artist: Ise LyfeTitle: SpreadtheWordRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine If revolution had a movie, Ise Lyfe just might be theme music. This 23 year-old Oakland poet/MC attacks the status quo of the greater ghetto community on his debut, SpreadtheWord (Hard Knock Records). Divided between poetic verse and song, Ise researches the content for his rhymes, demonstrating… Read more »

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dead prez: It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop (Film)

Artist: dead prezTitle: dead prez: It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop (Film)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow Opening with a Martin Luther King quote (“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”), dead prez: It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop is a Starz InBlack Original film that showcases the renowned rap group’s blaringly… Read more »

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The Last Stand

Artist: Boot Camp ClickTitle: The Last StandRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine There’s no question that the Boot Camp Clik has been a long-forged super-group. However, the battalion of Smif-N-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah, O.G.C., and Buckshot (Black Moon) always seemed to make longer-lasting work in their own battalions, as opposed to under the BCC tent. By collaborating… Read more »

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The 11th Hour (DVD)

Artist: Del Tha Funkee HomosapienTitle: The 11th Hour (DVD)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Kathy Iandoli After over a decade and a half of weirdly going where most MC’s have never gone before, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien is paid semi-proper homage in the documentary, soon-to-be album, The 11th Hour (Hiero Imperium). Del first dipped his toe… Read more »

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Two/Three

Artist: DabryeTitle: Two/ThreeRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow Producer extraordinaire Dabrye has garnered critical acclaim as an electronic happy producer. Two/Three (Ghostly International) is the second stop in the Michigan bases artists cycle of three Hip-Hop flavored albums and comes fives years since One/Three. Instrumental heavy albums are a tough pill to swallow if you… Read more »

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Blue Collar

Artist: RhymefestTitle: Blue CollarRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman As much as the masses love to cheer on a hustler turned rapper, Chicago native Rhymefest is living proof that you can make it big in the game even if the only thing you’ve sold on the corner is your music. ‘Fest spent years working random… Read more »

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Gangstress

Artist: KhiaTitle: GangstressRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Sex is too raw for metaphors. At least according to Khia, whose 2002’s “My Neck, My Back”, branded her oral sex’s chief advocate. True, the song’s bass had clubgoers chanting “that one durr is a hit”, but by the time their alcoholic slur corrected itself, the… Read more »

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SMACK: The Album Vol. 1

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: SMACK: The Album Vol. 1Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: John Burnett The S.M.A.C.K (Streets, Music, Arts, Culture & Knowledge) series is renowned for providing viewers with street journalism in its grittiest form. S.M.A.C.K. The Album Volume 1 CD/DVD continues the trend of past S.M.A.C.K. DVDs with a compilation of their signature street… Read more »

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The Purple Album

Artist: Purple CityTitle: The Purple AlbumRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill Zimmerman Just like their Dipset brethren, Purple City stays on their grind. Since dropping 2005’s Road to the Riches: The Best of the Purple City Mixtapes, Un Kasa, Shiest Bub and Agallah kept releasing a stream of mixtapes and a collaboration album with French… Read more »

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I Eat You Eat

Artist: A-AlikesTitle: I Eat You EatRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Abran Maldonado Chuck D sets the tone for the album on it’s opening lines: “You cannot talk above the people/You can’t talk to the people/You gotta talk with the people.” A-Alikes’ K and Ness have achieved a great feat with their debut album, I Eat… Read more »

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Block Music

Artist: ShawnnaTitle: Block MusicRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes Shawnna’s second studio album Block Music (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam) paints a befitting mural for the street wise, former member of the disbanded girl group Infamous Syndicate. Gritty tracks such as the “Gettin’ Some Remix” which features Hip-Hop royalty, Too Short, Lil Wayne, Ludacris and… Read more »

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Misery Loves Comedy

Artist: Louis Logic & J.J. BrownTitle: Misery Loves ComedyRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Dr. Zero It is rare for an album to be balanced. Most of the time, an artist will focus heavily on one element and neglect the other. For example, stellar sounds are sabotaged by bland lyricism. Or, top-notch verses are foiled uninspired… Read more »

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Table Tennis (Video Game)

Artist: Video Game ReviewTitle: Table Tennis (Video Game)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill Heinzelman When Rockstar Games (of Grand Theft Auto fame) announced plans to produce an X-Box 360 exclusive title, fans jumped for joy. Then they found out the game was based on ping pong, ahem, table tennis. While Forrest Gump is the “sports”… Read more »

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