Reviews / Music


The Games Black Girls Play: Learning The Ropes From Double Dutch To Hip-Hop (Book)

Artist: Kyra D. GauntTitle: The Games Black Girls Play: Learning The Ropes From Double Dutch To Hip-Hop (Book)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Nadiyah R. Bradshaw “Oh, Mary Mack Mack Mack, Aall dressed in black black black, With silver buttons buttons buttons, All down her back back back, She asked her mother mother mother, For fifty cents… Read more »



Legend Of The Wu-Tang: The Videos (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Legend Of The Wu-Tang: The Videos (DVD)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman Compiling all of Wu-Tang Clan’s videos on one DVD, Legend of the Wu-Tang: The Videos (Loud/RCA/Legacy) is an illuminating study in frustration. Arranged chronologically and covering every group release, what starts out as excitement over a new sound-sh*t, an… Read more »



Reality Check: Junior M.A.F.I.A. vs. Lil’ Kim (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Reality Check: Junior M.A.F.I.A. vs. Lil’ Kim (DVD)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Alejandro Mojado Ever since their “split”, one of the biggest Hip-Hop beefs has been going on between Junior M.A.F.I.A. and Lil’ Kim. This is related to perjury charges filed against Kim after her testimony in the now infamous 2001 Hot… Read more »



Day One (Mixtape)

Artist: DJ Drama/Young DroTitle: Day One (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Alejandro Mojado DJ Drama and Grand Hustle are back at it again with another scorching mixtape. This time Young Dro is up to bat for the Atlanta based team with a better batting average than the Braves. For this outing, Drama and the self… Read more »



Da Muzicianz

Artist: Da MuzicianzTitle: Da MuzicianzRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: AJ Fresh Embracing “Snap” and “Crunk” is the hardest thing to bear for hardheaded “true Hip-Hop” fans venturing out of East Coast rap confines. However, the latest release from Da Muzicianz, Da Muzicianz (TVT Records), is a commendable effort that might help smooth the transition for Hip-Hop… Read more »



Reasonable Doubt (Concert Review)

Artist: Jay-ZTitle: Reasonable Doubt (Concert Review)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jason Newman “Is this Brooklyn’s house tonight?” As Funkmaster Flex warmed up the crowd before Jay-Z’s concert-come-tribute last night (Sunday, June 25, 2006) celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his classic debut Reasonable Doubt, it’s safe to assume Radio City Music Hall had never heard the… Read more »



Dedication 2 (Mixtape)

Artist: DJ Drama/Lil WayneTitle: Dedication 2 (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Eb Haynes “I’m from a town where/everybody drowned and/Everybody died/But baby I’m still prayin’ wit ya/Everybody cryin but/Ain’t nobody tryin/There’s no doubt on my mind/that it was, Georgia…Bush!” Led by a passionate and highly ambitious Lil Wayne, “Georgia…Bush”, is by no means a typical anthem… Read more »



Waist Deep (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: Waist Deep (Film)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson It’s summertime: the weather’s getting hotter, the skirts are getting shorter. So are attention spans and standards. If you’ve been waiting for a film that embraces all those big screen excesses that the summer months afford; time to wade in and get Waist… Read more »



New Crack City (Mixtape)

Artist: Clinton Sparks/Busta RhymesTitle: New Crack City (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: The Closer New Crack City introduces the Aftermath-powered Busta Rhymes to the streets. Gone are the hyperkinetic hijinx associated with Busta in the past. Instead there is a grittier, darker, more conventional music; a stark contrast from his earlier New World Order apocalyptic… Read more »



The 5% Album

Artist: Lord JamarTitle: The 5% AlbumRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne It’s a bold move on Lord Jamar’s part to make an album devoted to something as complex as the Five Percent movement, but not far-fetched. If you’re old enough to have witnessed Hip-Hop when it was in its teens, then you know that… Read more »



New Joc City

Artist: Yung JocTitle: New Joc CityRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jesse Fairfax The South’s recent foothold on the prevailing sound of the culture continues bringing fresh faces to the game. Atlanta in particular has been a hotbed with so many acts putting their own spin on rap music from crunk, to pimping, to the more innovative… Read more »



Light Poles And Pine Trees

Artist: Field MobTitle: Light Poles And Pine TreesRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: John Burnett It’s been a long time coming for Albany natives, Field Mob, Shawn Jay and Chevy P. With their debut album 613: Ashy to Classy dropping in 2000, these Southern boys let the world know that they were country as hell and… Read more »



Listennn…The Album

Artist: DJ KhaledTitle: Listennn…The AlbumRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jamiyl Samuels Once synonymous with Luther “Luke” Campbell and bass music, the state of Florida has stepped up in the past few years as a viable outlet for Hip-Hop. Like the recent emergence of Houston, and The Bay Area before them, Miami has become a hotbed of… Read more »



Back To The Beat

Artist: NomadicTitle: Back To The BeatRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne It’s not uncommon for old school and new school Hip-Hop heads to disagree. Plenty of veteran fans lament, somewhat justifiably, over the current state of the genre, while newer listeners can find the praised material of more than a decade ago difficult to… Read more »



All Questions Answered

Artist: Roc ‘C’Title: All Questions AnsweredRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman Despite pushing 30, Ox City’s Roc ‘C’ is a rookie in this game, and he knows it. On the intro of his debut album, he shamelessly reiterates the many inquiries skeptics have been throwing his way like, “Who is Roc C?” and “How the… Read more »



The Big Bang

Artist: Busta RhymesTitle: The Big BangRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Alvin “aqua” Blanco Busta Rhymes still has a passion for this rap music thing. While the majority of MCs of his vintage called it a career, or should have, years ago, the former Leaders of the New School lyricist has battled and conquered the adversity… Read more »



Just For Kicks (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: Just For Kicks (DVD)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana The first step of being a sneaker addict is admitting you have a problem. But, after watching the new documentary Just For Kicks (Image Entertainment), you might be unsure whether getting help is really the next move. Directors Lisa Leone and Thibaut de… Read more »



Laugh Now, Cry Later

Artist: Ice CubeTitle: Laugh Now, Cry LaterRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne No-one screams West Coast OG quite like Ice Cube, and “screams” seems is a pretty apt choice of words considering the rage that “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” once delivered his ferocious lyrics with. Yet it has been some time since Cube was considered… Read more »



Have You Seen?

Artist: RampageTitle: Have You Seen?Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow Rampage has always been dependable for a good sixteen bars (check the “Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)”) but being the Lieutenant in Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad has also meant perpetually lurking in its shadows. Nearly a decade since his underrated 1997 sophomore act, Scouts Hono…By… Read more »



Screwed Up Movement

Artist: E.S.G.Title: Screwed Up MovementRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Brandon Edwards It seems like a long time coming for Texas’ “Everyday Street Gangsta” E.S.G., a living legend to many and stranger to most. It doesn’t get any thicker as far as hood credibility goes; the g’d up dboy stacked paper after being birthed in the trap,… Read more »



5 Sparrows For 2 Cents

Artist: The ProcussionsTitle: 5 Sparrows For 2 CentsRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Angus Crawford Backpackers everywhere unite, because the prodigal label, Rawkus, has returned. The same label that helped launch the careers of Talib Kweli and Mos Def is back with the the Procussions and the release of their album 5 Sparrows For 2 Cents (Rawkus)…. Read more »



On My NY S**t (Mixtape)

Artist: DJ Green Lantern/ DJ Kay SlayTitle: On My NY S**t (Mixtape)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Dr. Zero When it comes to Hip-Hop, it is a no-brainer that New York is its capital. But, instead of fans reflecting on the legends that the boroughs have birthed, many focus on jealous artists that are unwilling to accept… Read more »



X-Men: The Last Stand (Film)

Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: X-Men: The Last Stand (Film)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson After some helpful backstory establishing the power of now-deceased mutant Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), X-Men: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox) throws us into the not-so-distant future where mutants – genetically abnormal humans with various superpowers and skills – are tolerated but… Read more »



Killa Season

Artist: Cam’RonTitle: Killa SeasonRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios Recently it seems that Cam’ron Giles’ name has been on the tip of everybody’s tongue (no homo). It’s kind of hard not to be considering all that’s happened with Harlem’s golden boy within the last calendar. Dude bounced from Def Jam, was shot during an… Read more »



It’s Not A Rumor (Mixtape)

Artist: A-Pinks/DJ Whoo KidTitle: It’s Not A Rumor (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brandon Edwards The Empire State breeds envy. New York MC’s are in a weird situation at the moment, and with the Southern hemisphere enjoying much deserved success and mainstream airplay, up-and-coming east coast MC’s find it hard to fit into the rotation…. Read more »



The Great Migration

Artist: Bronze NazarethTitle: The Great MigrationRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine When the RZA opted to play a more removed role from Wu-Tang Clan’s solo projects, there were several appointed heirs: Mathematics, 4th Disciple, and Bronze Nazareth. The last, a Michigan native, impressed RZA to the point of landing work on the Birth of the… Read more »



Back 2 Da Basics

Artist: Yo GottiTitle: Back 2 Da BasicsRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Anthony Carr With the surging of Southern Hip-Hop’s influence within the last year or so, many artists from cities like Houston, Atlanta, and Memphis have been trying to gain even more national attention. North Memphis’ own Yo Gotti hopes to take advantage of the… Read more »



The Art of 16 Bars (DVD)

Artist: DVD ReviewTitle: The Art of 16 Bars (DVD)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Finally, there’s an instructional DVD for MCs by MCs featuring real MCs. The Art of 16 Bars (QD3 Entertainment) is a documentary slash boom bap 101 4seminar narrated by Method Man on the “how to’s” and the “one-two, one-two’s” of… Read more »



Mo’ Mega

Artist: Mr. LifTitle: Mo’ MegaRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne Chances are if you’re not familiar with Def Jux, or prefer your rap via mainstream radio, you haven’t heard of Mr. Lif. A subterranean favorite, the Beantown MC has been steadily grinding the past nine years. His most recent coup was the highly regarded… Read more »



Carving A New Standard Vol. 1

Artist: Up Above Records Presents…Title: Carving A New Standard Vol. 1Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman From the mid-90s to the early-2000s, L.A.’s Up Above Records served as a reliable outlet for the right-minded Visionaries crew and their West Coast affiliates…but not much else. Hence the label’s reputation forever changed when they released emerging East… Read more »



The Flamerous Life

Artist: Flam BeyTitle: The Flamerous LifeRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brent Woodie Although dwelling in a multitude of places like Virginia and Maryland may have a strong influence on the consciousness of a young MC, it has done little to change the New York state of mind built in the city’s own Flam Bey. Playing… Read more »



The General Dynamic

Artist: Basic VocabTitle: The General DynamicRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Ironically, the one rap group from the South called Basic Vocab actually surpasses its name. This reference is of course to Basic Vocab, a trio harvested fresh from the M-I-A. Their debutoffering, The General Dynamic (AVX Music Group), is quite different from the… Read more »



Live & Learn

Artist: MekalekTitle: Live & LearnRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brolin Winning As the DJ and main production force behind Time Machine ™, Mekalek has been crafting highly melodic, hard-knocking tracks for many years now. He’s consistently impressed synth-weary heads and has elevated his beat game with each TM release, from the early 12-inch singles (“Reststop… Read more »



Looking Backwards

Artist: The Sound ProvidersTitle: Looking BackwardsRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Jason Hortillas Ever take a vinyl record of your favorite Hip-Hop artist and play it backwards, in hopes that you hear the words of Satan? Probably not. Although it may be standard in Rock lore, Hip-Hop reserves the use of the reverse backspin for turntablists’and DJs…. Read more »



Killa Season (DVD)

Artist: Cam’RonTitle: Killa Season (DVD)Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brent Woodie Cam’ron scene stealing performance as Rico in 2002’s Paid In Full showed the Harlem-bred rapper had more than what it takes for the big screen. Taking the trend of rapper-turned-actor up a notch Cam’ron makes his directorial debut with Killa Season (Diplomatic Man) to… Read more »



Wood Work

Artist: Da BackWudzTitle: Wood WorkRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine Having achieved monumental success as an R&B and Pop producer, Dallas Austin is still itching for a hit Hip-Hop act. The last time he eyed up a Southern rap talent, it was Poison Clan’s JT Money and the nauseating “Who Dat” chants that followed. Seven years… Read more »



Pick A Bigger Weapon

Artist: The CoupTitle: Pick A Bigger WeaponRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Michael Pollock Like walking into a party drunk and pissing on the coats, Pick a Bigger Weapon (Epitaph), The Coup’s fifth album, is no less unpredictable and vitriolic than anything they’ve done before. MC Boots Riley is still in Richard Pryor-sharing-an-apartment-with-George Clinton-mode, still getting all… Read more »



Never Drank The Kool-Aid (Book)

Artist: TouréTitle: Never Drank The Kool-Aid (Book)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana Touré has a nice gig. An esteemed journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, The New Yorker and a slew of other highly reputable publications, former host of MTV Spoke ‘n’ Heard, and current BET correspondent, Touré makes a living out of deconstructing Hip-Hop culture… Read more »



Stay Tru

Artist: Pastor TroyTitle: Stay TruRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Paine Since his mildly publicized feud with Master P five years ago, Pastor Troy has been an Atlanta workaholic, yet still without the level of notoriety of his peers. On the heels of some new exposure via Chamillionaire’s “Southern Takeover,” Troy drops his seemingly mandatory yearly installment… Read more »



Blood Money

Artist: Mobb DeepTitle: Blood MoneyRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios Even though Mobb Deep gained enormous street fame in the 90’s with their classic The Infamous, the Queensbridge duo have never quite lived up to that earlier greatness on subsequent releases. They showed hints of again reaching their potential here and there on Hell… Read more »




Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: Develop[Mental]1Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brandon Edwards Just because you play the role, it don’t mean you get the part. Mixtape newbies and comfortable vets take heed, Norcal DJ Icewater is exceptional at mixing posse cuts. The shouting echo of mixtape DJ’s was tired the day the trend began. Smooth blends and… Read more »



Floe Almighty (Mixtape)

Artist: Edgar Allen FloeTitle: Floe Almighty (Mixtape)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Starrene Rhett Edgar Allen Floe has returned, swinging his lyrical sword of “justus”. Although he hasn’t dropped an official LP yet, he garnered solid footing on his space in the Hip-Hop universe with his EP, True Links. The next installment from the Edgar Allen Floe… Read more »



Alternately Deep

Artist: Roots ManuvaTitle: Alternately DeepRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Orisanmi Burton Who is Rodney Smith? The answer may illicit blank looks and shoulder shrugs by those in the Western hemisphere but pose that same question to folks on the other side of the pond and be prepared to hear a barrage of accolades. The bloke from… Read more »



Video Surveillance (DVD)

Artist: Boot Camp ClickTitle: Video Surveillance (DVD)Rating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Orisanmi Burton Beginning in 1993 with Black Moon’s seminal Enta Da Stage, the Hip-Hop collective known as the Boot Camp Click (BCC) unleashed a full clip of coveted albums, each showcasing their impressive roster of skilled wordsmiths. The Click’s Wu-Tang Clan contemporaries may be… Read more »



Bang For The Buck

Artist: Ugly DucklingTitle: Bang For The BuckRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brandon Edwards Relentlessly determined and optimistic, ugly ducklings are the ones that no one wants: the hideously unloved and underappreciated. As the tale goes, the ill regarded fowl eventually transforms into the beautiful swan, adored by all. This isn’t the case for the Long… Read more »



Drive Slow (Mixtape)

Artist: GLC & A-TrakTitle: Drive Slow (Mixtape)Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne If you want something done, do it yourself. While Chicago’s GLC could have sat back and waited for Kanye to release his major label debut, the rapper instead takes the admirable route of creating a buzz for himself without the aid of… Read more »



Food & Liquor (Bootleg)

Artist: Lupe FiascoTitle: Food & Liquor (Bootleg)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Illseed Sorry, but the almighty doesn’t condone rips, burns or copping joints from seedy looking cats on the street. Don’t take loot out of Lupe’s pocket, even though a record deal with Atlantic and a Reebok shoe deal means said pockets ain’t seeing no… Read more »




Artist: People Under The StairsTitle: StepfatherRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne Although other seminal West Coast Hip-Hop acts such as Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5 have gone on to achieve some sort of mainstream acknowledgement, this sort of commercial success has evaded the People Under The Stairs (PUTS) thus far in their career. Nonetheless,… Read more »




Artist: CoppershotTitle: IssuesRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana In an age where many rappers have waited for Moses to leave them unsupervised only to worship golden calf grills, we have closed our Bibles. We have surrendered to the unfortunate reality that the next Nasir Jones is somewhere wearing a hardhat on his way to… Read more »



Todd Smith

Artist: LL Cool JTitle: Todd SmithRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: The Closer What more can be said about the career of the original Hip-Hop Icon? LL Cool J has been an enduring presence in Hip-Hop for the duration of it’s mainstream history. Before the Tupac’s, the B.I.G.s and the Jiggas ,and even before the Snoops,… Read more »



Alive on Arrival (Mixtape)

Artist: Green LanternTitle: Alive on Arrival (Mixtape)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: John Kennedy Through his exclusive features, masterful mixes and precise production, Green Lantern has cemented his name among the most innovative of mixtape DJs. Since departing from his post as Eminem’s official disk jockey, Green has honed his handiness on the boards, adding joints from… Read more »