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Qualo: Backpack Gangstas

The annual Chicago Rocks showcase, organized by the respected Molemen crew, has been a highlight of the city's hip-hop calendar for years and Qualo made sure its appearance during the 2005 edition would be memorable. Waving a flag and flooding the stage with rappers, the group turned its set into a haphazard scene straight out of a political convention. It was an apt move for Qualo, a quartet who are definitely rap's dark-horse candidate.

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Lifesavas: Alter-Ego Trippin'

For hip-hop trio Lifesavas, the fine line between fact and fiction has temporarily become blurred. With their new album, this Portland, OR-based crew–consisting of Jumbo the Garbageman, Vursatyl, and Rev. Shines–tossed out the old blueprint and created a cinematic concept effort as intricate as Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves, with a narrator, segued scenes, and a fictionalized backstory.

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Gui Boratto: Brazilian Architecture

You may be familiar with the saying (often attributed to Elvis Costello) "writing about music is like dancing about architecture"–the idea being that words aren't able to capture the essence of music any better than moving around in a club captures the essence of a building. But dancing and architecture have more in common than one might think, especially when Brazilian techno producer Guilherme "Gui" Boratto is involved.

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Five Star By Kevin Barnes

On Of Montreal's "My British Tour Diary," from the Athens, GA-based psych-pop band's 2004 album, Satanic Panic in the Attic, frontman Kevin Barnes complains about London cab drivers playing "the most truly repellent techno music ever made." But it's clear from the crooked beats, wild synths, and disco rhythms that permeate Of Montreal's latest opus, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, that Barnes has got plenty of love for techno's founding fathers. Here, he waxes poetic on the electronic music pioneers who have influenced his sound.
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Cinematic Orchestra's Artist Tips

Despite the proliferation of bedroom rockers with cracked laptop copies of Logic, there are plenty of producers recording the old-fashioned way–in studios. While there's nothing particularly old-fashioned about soundtrack-jazz-loving Jason Swinscoe, his latest filmic opus as Cinematic Orchetra, Ma Fleur (Domino)–which features guests as disparate as "Rescue Me" singer Fontella Bass and Lamb's Louise Rhodes–was made in more than a few studios around the world. Read more » 

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