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Review: Ralph Dog Afflictions

Label: Bomb Hip-Hop

Despite the highly questionable album art, which features emcee Ralph Dog behind bars as well as a bunch of Polaroids of a really busted dominatrix, I approached Afflictions with an open mind. After all, San Francisco's Bomb Hip-Hop has released some classic records, such as the hugely influential Return Of The DJ series. Unfortunately, their latest fails to measure up to the imprint's reputation. Featuring what can only be described as mediocre production by Cherok and rhymes from the self-confessed "antichrist of hip-hop," Ralph's sadist schtick gets old quickly. Read more » 

Review: The Roots Feat. Jill Scott Complexity

Label: MCA

Coming off of their recent album, Phrenology, the 5th Dynasty comes through with one more classic jam for the books. "Complexity" is not your ordinary girly-gurl joint, but a mature groove with careful lyrics spat by the great Black Thought himself. Read more » 

Review: Murs The End of the Beginning

Label: Definitive Jux

Definitive Jux gets almost rootsy on the debut solo joint from Murs of the Living Legends crew. The LA rap veteran keeps it traditional without resorting to old-school clichés: the production here (from El-P, Shock G, Atmosphere's Ant and others) bubbles with overheated horns, virgin drum breaks and vintage funk so raw you'd swear it was an RJD2 record. The real pleasure, though, is Murs' lyricism, which combines an unhurried, conversational flow with a confidence so solid he needn't resort to boasting. Read more » 

Review: DRM/First Floor Brothers Shaheed/EP

Label: Citrona

Citrona's second and third slabs keep them on the good-look chart. Remixer Greg Long gives Aaron Schultz (a.k.a. DRM)'s dubby downtempo "Shaheed" a keyboard rinse on one mix, and extends well on another. Meanwhile, First Floor Brothers's smooth, retro-funky "Fashionably Late" gets sped up and globalized by Thunderball, while Long thumps up their "Signal 106." Oh yeah. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Wanna Buy a Craprak?

Label: Carpark

Carpark is releasing some of the loveliest little sounds around these days, all fuchsia beats and electric lavender shadings. This sampler slots thirteen tracks and four videos together as neatly as new, perfect crayons in a box. Greg Davis's "Brocade" is an aptly titled tangle of glowing guitar threads, and the simple guitar and piano of Ogurusu Norihide's "5:00" roll gently, underscored by a soft clicking that resembles tiny kisses. Casino Versus Japan and Kid606 offer up waves of slow-mo reverbed sweetness, and Takagi Masakatsu's gem is all golden glint. Read more » 

Review: Califone Quicksand and Cradlesnakes

Label: Thrill Jockey

Califone's second full-length inhales sun-baked dust and exhales pure shimmer. Combining desert mirages, slow motion tumbleweed sweeps, and shards of glitch, Ben Massarella and Tim Rutili get inventive, unafraid to mix startling tech textures into their alt-country palette. Deftly manipulated feedback and under-the-radar effects make for an album at once simply present and elegantly prescient. Gorgeously elliptical lyrics give way to subtle tool shed jam sessions that are anything but hokey. Think you hate country? Read more » 

Review: Pitch Black Errie (Jiggle Like Jello)

Label: Solidarity Records

Bay Area MC/poet Pitch Black sets it off fittingly with the uptempo "Errie," the greeting of choice among Frisco gangstas. It showcases Black's intense vocal style, something akin to a heated whisper. The flipside's "Communication," however, steals the show, alternating between frustrated flows and calm cadences over sparse, plucked-string soul. Read more » 

Review: Hedonizm Sampler

Label: TCR

Breaks vet Ellis Dee offers two bits from his upcoming comp. "The Chase" sees Dee team up with his man Syrus for some dubby and cinematic thrust, while the flip finds the Autobots build "Blogger," an electro-tinged bassline burner. An exercise in necessary boom. Read more » 

Review: King Tubby 100% of Dub

Label: Select Cuts

At first glance, 100% of Dub may seem like just another "Best of" title, and if you're familiar with reggae comps, that's reason enough to be wary. But 100% should be considered one of the most significant dub reissues of the last 20 years for reasons other than its impeccable recording quality and content selection. It also represents just how closely Tubby was involved with some of Jamaica's best ever recordings. Read more » 

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