Reviews / Music


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 »



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 »