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Review: MC Lyte Is Lytro Da Underground Heat Vol. 1

Label: SGI

With 15 years in the hip-hop game, six career albums and a greatest hits comp, MC Lyte was the first female rapper to turn out a gold single with the cult classic "Roughneck." With that said, if there were a university for female emcees, Lyte would be the dean. And though her machine-gun delivery is as present as ever on her seventh and latest release, that it was made in four days is quite apparent. Maad Phunk!'s production rests on overly tired loop production, which does nothing to pump up Lyte's lack of hook structure and trite lyrics focusing on her longstanding career. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists The Produce Section Vol. 1

Label: Wishbone

Wishbone Entertainment is a group of MCs, DJs, entertainers and activists loosely organized around a core known as Felonius. The Produce Section is like a tape of a weekend basement session, with Felonius bringing the loops and instruments, and a group of conscious MCs kicking it over the top just for the sheer joy of it. On "Protest," they reveal a sharp eye for aspects of politics that often go unnoticed, like the racial composition of the armed forces. "1234" takes the prize here, though, simply for featuring raps for unity in English, Spanish and German all in one track. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Thinkbox Edition 1: Settings

Label: Thinkbox

Windsor/Detroit's Thinkbox offers itself as the latest entrant to the North American pantheon of micro-labels peddling minimalistic sounds; its first compilation includes known entities like Bill Van Loo and Mark Laliberte as well as less familiar names Steve Roy and Christopher Bissonnette. There's nary a 4/4 kick to be found here-the comp slides from fuzzed needle-hiss to battered ambiance in the vein of Lucky Kitchen's "Sparkling Composers" series. Read more » 

Review: Plasticman The Lift

Label: Road

Who said we were post-industrial? Plasticman is part of a new school of young, post-"PulseX" producers delivering militant, electro-inflected minimalism. "Printloop" on the flip is the standout here, opening with, yes, looped printout samples and dropping into proper bleeps and bass. For MCs and Front 242 fans alike. Read more » 

Review: Ghost Cauldron Invent Modest Fires

Label: !K7

Why front on an album that invokes David Lynch's Twin Peaks on its first song? Berlin's Ghost Cauldron might offer a blender full of beats, but its sweep is nevertheless similar to cinema. "Fire Walk With Me," laden with cutting strings, measured piano and a plodding beat, feels like a soundtrack to the latest Ridley Scott blockbuster, while "Only at Night" samples Brando's canonical "horror" speech from Apocalypse Now (as well as its helicopter rotor noise). Any questions? Read more » 

Review: Awol One and Daddy Kev Slanguage

Label: Mush

What happens when an abstract producer and a way-out-there rapper get together to create hip-hop's answer to free jazz? Read more » 

Review: Melinda Let Me Know

Label: Pep Sounds

This Viennese imprint launches with the Marylin McCoo-evoking Hungarian singer Melinda Barcoczy in front of the keyboard-based jazz-disco flavors of trio The Pepita Project. "Let Me Know" is that smooth, langourous kind of house that simply makes you want to kick off your shoes, light up a spliff and grind witchya baby on the dancefloor. Read more » 

Review: 7L & Esoteric Do It

Label: Brick

Today's special? White Rapper Beef. "Do It" is the answer to Cage's "Haterama," a one-verse Internet-only diss of battle vet Esoteric. On Cage's alleged drug use: "I know he does helium before he does flows." 7L crafts the perfect beat for Eso's verbal venom, but this record will be most enjoyed by fans familiar with this feud. Read more » 

Review: Ed Rush & Optical Bullit

Label: Virus

True aliens in every respect, Ed Rush & Optical string together tracks with a certain inescapable mystique. "Bullit" takes a step back from this duo's signature synth escapades, as they sample funky horns and jazzy stabs to keep this tune rolling inna nice disco vibe. Read more » 

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