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Reviews: Hip-hop


Review: Nocando Jimmy the Lock

Label: Alpha Pup

When it comes to Los Angeles' music scene, there's no avoiding the heralded cipher circle Project Blowed and beat-head bastion Low End Theory. Nocando's debut, Jimmy the Lock, lives in both worlds. With a fully automatic delivery full of wig-splitting wordplay, the battle-tested Blowedian fires inventive, idiosyncratic, and unpredictable rhymes. Topics range from navigating LA life on "Exploits and Glitches" to sex with minors on the R. Read more » 

Review: Madlib with Guilty Simpson Madlib's Medicine Show No. 1 - Before the Verdict

Just when you thought Madlib could get no more bugged-out, along comes the first installment of his monthly Medicine Show series, a 17-track prequel to the upcoming OJ Simpson album with Guilty Simpson (no relation). Tracks like "Ode to the Ghetto," "Lucky Guy," and "Pigs" offer grimey underground hip-hop at its dusted, blunted, and drunken best—hinting at likely instant classic-status for the proper album. Read more » 

Review: Donwill Don Cusack in High Fidelity

The 2000 classic hipster film High Fidelity wasn't exactly hip-hop, but Donwill (of Tanya Morgan) channels his inner Rob Gordon to deal with his quarter-life crisis, addressing his relationship woes through a clever concept album. Using the film's timeline, the MC creates a thoughtful and comical 16-track odyssey with Don Cusack in High Fidelity. Read more » 

Review: Freeway and Jake One The Stimulus Package

Though the economy is still a mess, we can rejoice in the fact that Freeway and Jake One's The Stimulus Package is here to rejuvenate hip-hop. The two display perfect chemistry with the Seattle beatsmith's bangers complimenting the Philly Freezer's gruff delivery. Read more » 

Review: Souls of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge

Despite not having dropped a group album in almost a decade, Souls of Mischief still have enough gusto to keep hip-hop heads listening. No, SOM's latest effort, Montezuma's Revenge, is not as consistently surprising as their classic debut, 93 ‘Til Infinity, but just because they don't outdo themselves doesn't mean members Opio, Phesto, Tajai, and A-Plus don't sound noticeably reinvigorated here. Read more » 

Review: Blockhead The Music Scene

Label: Ninja Tune

On his years off from making beats for Aesop Rock and others, Blockhead has assembled a group of instrumental LPs that stands solidly on its own, despite the generally shoddy reputation of instrumental hip-hop full-lengths over the past decade. The Music Scene adds new knots to Blockhead's sly, ironic take on boom-bap, incorporating shifting structures that spiral into changing tempos, half-remembered snippets of soul horns and gnarly old guitars, and occasional drifts into hazy, shimmering psychedelia. Read more » 

Review: Dam-Funk Toeachizown

Boogie revivalist and long-haired LA electro visionary Damon Riddick (a.k.a. Dam-Funk) wants to make music that lets your hair blow in the wind—a difficult task, but his massive Toeachizown offers just that kind of soothing experience. Full of retro-futurist '80s funk filled with smeared keyboard melodies and dirty beats, it’s perfect for banging out of a souped-up hovercraft and is easy to soak up and get lost inside. Buoyant backgrounds and vapor-trail synths mirror the mantras and platitudes that double as lyrics. Read more » 

Review: RJD2 The Colossus

If you never got "Ghostwriter" out of your head, you've probably been waiting for RJD2 to return to his beatsmithing roots. But instead of straight hip-hop, The Colossus is an omnibus record, swallowing brass-wielding collaborators, live instruments, hand-aged beats, and its creator's voice—all in service of a mission to unify RJ's pet genres via horn-blasted statements of intent fit for rollicking arenas ("Let There Be Horns"), menacing synthesizer pit traps ("A Spaceship For Now"), and intricate instrumentals. Read more » 

Review: Kid Sister Ultraviolet

Label: Downtown

Ultraviolet took three years to come out, but that duration only confronts the listener on "Pro Nails," the Kanye-guesting acrylics jam that broke Kid Sister: it sounds not so much dated as simply known—a remarkable shelf life for a blog hit. Nothing here challenges its single potential, but Ultraviolet thumps throughout (courtesy of production from boyfriend A-Trak, XXXchange, et al.), equal parts anthem-house and straight-up joyrapping. Read more » 


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