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Mr. Dead: Off the Deep End

If MF Doom is hip-hop's vaudeville villain then horror/B-movie makeup artist and MC Mr. Dead is rap music's Vincent Price-or maybe its Peter Sellers.

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Nicolay In the Studio

The Foreign Exchange's Connected was one of 2004's biggest surprises, simply because of how it was produced. The hip-hop record was proof-positive of how far the internet has taken recorded music. Raleigh, NC-based rapper Phonte (of Little Brother) and Dutch DJ/producer Nicolay concocted an entire album without seeing each other in person or even speaking on the telephone. They met through an Okay Player message board and began swapping audio files across the Atlantic via Instant Messenger, eventually piecing together a seamless record. Read more » 

AG: Andre's New Posse

Andre Barnes (a.k.a. AG) no longer lives in the Patterson Houses-where he saw Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizzard Theodore scratching in the park as a small child, and scribbled the impeccable rhymes on Showbiz and AG's impossibly mature Runaway Slave LP as a teenager-but he's still very much a part of the tapestry here.

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Caroline: A Degree In Dream Pop

A fascinating voice has ascended from the bustling musical circuitry of Japan: Caroline. With dreamy vocals and captivating programming-somewhere between the melancholic charm of The Cranes' Ali Shaw and the innocently sensual minimalism of the Ghostly International roster-24-year-old Caroline Lufkin is staking a unique place for herself in a pop-ambient sphere already congested with Björk and Tujiko Noriko imposters.

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Prozack Turner: Comes Back Hungry

When Prozack Turner (of Bay Area hip-hop act Foreign Legion) left the States last year for a six-week retreat in Ireland, he wasn't exactly on a quest for rest and relaxation. He headed overseas with his rhyme book in hand, on a mission to record his new solo effort, Bangathon. "When not in the pubs, I was in the studio or on double-decker buses writing the album," recalls Prozack in his Bay Area twang. "So it was definitely a great place to get away and put things into perspective."

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