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Vybz Kartel's Favorites

Every few years, some know-it-all music writer (ahem) makes the bold proclamation that dancehall is on the verge of blowing up in the States, but if I were you, I wouldn't hold my breath for the day that Ruth from Duluth bawls out "A here forward!" at her local soundclash.

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Freerange Records: 10 Years Deep

Whether fish or fowl, non-vegetarians know that food tastes better uncaged. Apparently, Jamie Odell also knew this when he began gathering his cast of animals for the Freerange Records label 10 years ago. Starting with releases by his own Jimpster and Audiomontage aliases, Odell followed with singles and albums from Sweden's Stateless, Ohio's Hanna, and the UK's Trevor Loveys. Now the farm has a diverse population that includes Square One's dream-tech, Only Freak's retro house, Shur-I-Kan's intelligent future jazz, and Switch's punchy beats.

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The Streets: Coming Clean

Sitting across from me-barefoot, in an Agnès B suit jacket and diamond pinky ring, and fidgeting mercilessly with the hotel's cordless phone-is 27-year-old Sagittarian Mike Skinner, who, as The Streets, has done quite a bit to elevate the emo bad boy's place in hip-hop. His daytime persona is polite and gracious, and he dabbles in distinctly upper-middle-class pleasures. A Bill Bryson book sits on the end table, a bottle of Dior Homme cologne in the bathroom. Read more » 

MSTRKRFT: Dirty Looks

In the video for MSTRKRFT's first single, "Easy Love," four well-endowed women in tight business attire sit patiently in a room. After suggestively drinking four strawberry milkshakes, they individually lie down on a dentist's chair and have gallons of a pink, creamy substance dripped in their mouths in what some might call a pornographic fashion.

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Gnarls Barkley: Totally Gnarly

Gnarls Barkley isn't what you expect. The culmnation of a years-long musical conversation between super-producer Danger Mouse and Southern soul machine Cee-Lo, it strays from the already-esoteric blueprint of both artists' careers into stranger and more anguished territory. Far from the cool, cynical tones of Damon Albarn (who drew DM into Gorillaz' Demon Days), or MF Doom's zippy, sardonic rhymes (which fueled Dangerdoom's The Mouse and the Mask), Cee-Lo is Danger Mouse's most engaged and emotionally generous collaborator to date. Read more » 

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